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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Monday October 10th, 2011

In 690 AD Wu Zetian was preparing to become the sole Empress Regnant in Chinese history. There was a considerable amount of intrigue in the air as Wu was feared and hated for her ruthlessness in dealing with potential adversaries and dissenters. When a man overseeing the erection of a colossal statue of Buddha to commemorate her ascendency to the throne suddenly dies as a result of spontaneous combustion investigators are dispatched to find the culprit. When one of them also succumbed to spontaneous combustion the Empress decided to pardon the renowned Detective Dee who is serving a prison sentence for having made statements critical of her and put him in charge of the case.

A Chinese/Hong Kong production Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame is a big, opulent looking blend of mystery and action with impressive special effects. Hong Kong film legend Andy Lau is perfect as Dee a character based on an actual Chinese official who lived during this period. Despite having little regard for the Empress or her regime he prefers to see change occur within the system rather than through anarchy. Bingbing Li is the beautiful, seductive agent of the Empress who is sent to assist as well as spy on Dee. Chao Deng is an ill-tempered investigator with scarcely a hint of restraint as he goes about seeking answers. Carina Lau is excellent as the Machiavellian ruler determined to bend history to her will.