Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

England might have Sherlock Homes, but China has Detective Dee. 

That’s pretty much what we’ve got here, a Sherlock Holmes style mystery story, complete with a supernatural element that seems impossible but somehow becomes explainable through clever detective work on the part of our protagonist.  But now throw that in a blender with a fantasy kung fu movie and you have some kind of idea what you’re getting into here.

What made the movie a little strange, and I think perhaps one reason why some of the people I watched it with didn’t quite get it, was that while the character’s in the movie are debunking a supernatural mystery, there’s all sorts of weird supernatural-esque shit going on that everyone just seems to take at face value.  Characters can change shape with the use of acupuncture needles, people can leap 50 feet into the air (there’s a whole lot of wire-fu going on here courtesy of choreographer Sammo Hung), there’s even a kung fu battle against deer in this movie.  I am not making this up. 

So it isn’t your typical mystery movie, but I think that’s probably what I enjoyed about it.  The mystery is there, and it’s good, I doubt anyone would be able to figure it out before the plot unfolds (though admittedly when you do find out what’s happening at the end it’s all a bit ridiculous), but you get all sorts of other crazy kung fu and fantasy elements thrown into the mix while they’re solving it. 

I thought at the time that Detective Dee was played by the same actor as Su Can in True Legend which I watched back to back with this on the Sunday of the Dark Bridges Festival, but it turns out these round eyes must too racist to tell the difference, because it’s not.  Sorry about that Andy Lau and Man Cheuk Chiu, but c’mon, you guys do like pretty alike when you’re rocking the beards and shaggy hair so cut me some slack.

The fighting in this one isn’t quite as spectacular as True Legend, but story wise this one feels a little better realized, so I’d say I enjoyed it equally just for slightly different reasons.  But that isn’t to say that there isn’t some great fights in this movie, plus I dig on the unique weapons they had in it.  One guy uses this double sided battle axe that he throws around, a chick uses a whip and Dee uses this cool Mace that he can detect the breaking point on any weapon by the sound it makes when it clashes with them.  Not the normal stuff you see in these sorts of movies so I appreciate that.

So, if you want a really killer kung fu flick with a good mystery and some bizarre fantasy elements, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is your ticket!  Check it out!