Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame – Intriguing!

This post has been delayed for quite some time as I have a backlog of blog entries piling up by the day.  But I have this quirky habit of documenting all the movies I have watched as I gave up collecting stubs that fade.  Unless the movie is so bad that all I want is to forget about the whole thing.  Besides, it is often more than a review.  It is part of my diary.

Wuxia fans would love “Detective Dee”.  I guess two weekends ago when this film was out, it was hugely popular.  All the cinemas in town were full.  Fortunately the Movie Review Squad managed to book some seats in a Cathay cinema in the middle of a heartland.  AMK Hub is always packed with people.  I have warned my buddy to buffer at least 30 minutes to find a packing lot.  It did not take that long.  But you would never know.

An intriguing detective story aside, those who have been reading wuxia stories should be able to appreciate some of the details the filmmaker has put into the show – the transfiguration, the foreign weapons and fighting style and poison from outside the mainland among others.  Andy Lau, Tony Leung (Ka Fai), and Carina Lau are seasoned actors and actress.  Hence I would not expect anything less.  I am also much impressed by the role played by Li Bingbing.  It adds another layer of complicity to the overall plot.

I would consider myself as someone who has paid much attention to my Chinese history lessons at school.  However, it took me some time trying to reconnect to the knowledge that Empress Wu is the only woman in the history of China to assume that title.  And then I did some research.  Her Chinese name is 武則天.  And then I remember.  Needless to say, when I studied Chinese history, I studied in Chinese, I remember in Chinese (PS. This movie is filmed in Mandarin and as a Cantonese, I have to rely on the English subtitles).  Today, I read up a little bit more about Wu Zetian on the Internet.  Her story alone is intriguing.  And her role in Chinese history is also intriguing.  Think about this.  Of the thousands of years of Chinese civilization, we only have one empress who ruled for 20 years.  That does not seem right, does it?

7 thoughts on “Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame – Intriguing!”

  1. Sigh… sometimes I get to see Zhang YiMou movie production in my British TV. Also I have grow up leaning towards the westerner thinking (minus the immorality of course) and find those Chinese “chet jiuk” heroic love of dying for their lovers or performing mutual suicide very put-on and find myself laughing at those scenes rather than crying with it. 🙂 Remember that scene from House of the flying dagger where 金城 武 and Andy Lau fought from Autumn till Winter and Zhang Zhi Yi was supposed to die and suddenly she sprung alive in winter??!!! C’mon get real Chinese directors!!! I wanted to brawl and scream!

    What took you so long to know that Empress Wu is 武則天? ahhh.. you are a disgrace Wilfrid. :p

    1. JoV – Ha ha ha … how would I know Empress Wu is 武則天 by reading the subtitles?! OK, to be frank, my memory of Chinese History is fading away. I blame the lack of access to Chinese TV series here … he he he.

      Back to your Flying Dagger observation, you should really see some of the very locally made HK movies. They are even more dramatic. It is part of the culture I believe. I think we have the same feeling when we watch, say, Indian movies. We would have scratched our heads really hard and screamed: “Come on, kiss the girl! Do some tongue tussle!”.

      1. In Chinese history there is only TWO well known empresses, it is either Empress Chi Hei (in Cantonese) Chi Si (in Mandarin) or Empress Wu.

        You are still a disgrace. Better you watch Indian movie and claim you know nothing about their historical background and culture. that way I will forgive you. :p

  2. My husband would sure love to watch this…..taken note of the movie title and finding lubang to get a hold of a copy of the movie later on. Thanks for sharing Wilfrid.

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