ReviewWriter: Syahida KamarudinWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame"
"Young Detective Dee" seems like an attempt made by director-producer Tsui Hark to know how absurd can he go before the audience stops and asks, "Isn't this too much?"
There is no too much in his book, one may realise soon enough while watching this prequel to the highly successful "Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame" that was released three years prior. More fantastical than epic mystery and investigative film, there are times that one may forget what the plot really is about as the director distracts you with superhuman stunts and the stereoscopic treatment that has taken away breathing space from actual character development.
Not that this reviewer is complaining, as the result of the film's high production values is a stunning and picturesque view of Tsui's version of Tang Dynasty, as well as exquisite wardrobe that was even made more refined when worn by the always elegant Carina Lau and Angelababy.
But apart from the magnificent effects and sets, "Young Detective Dee" suffers from incoherent narrative and over-the-top antics almost bordering on ridiculous (pay attention to the horse swimming/running IN the sea, or how everybody prefers to break through the ceiling, jumping onto statues or destroying walls for no apparent reason instead of just opening the door like any normal human being).
As the young Dee, it is unfair to compare Taiwanese actor Mark Chao to the star power that is Andy Lau. While Lau can hold his own as the more experienced Dee, the "Monga" actor still has a long way to go. As Tsui Hark himself once admitted, one young actor alone has no power to maintain the audiences' attention and that is why William Feng, Lin Gengxin and Chinese movie first-timer Kim Bum (playing Dee's rival Yuchi, sidekick Shatuo, and eye-candy respectively) are there for assistance. Meanwhile, not much can be said about Angelababy as courtesan Yin Ruiji, since all the Tang Dynasty's culture lessons she took before filming only ends up with her looking surprised, looking upset, and fainting.
Overall, "Young Detective Dee" may be suitable for those who love Tsui Hark's previous works or the genius official of Tang and Zhou Dynasty that is Di Renjie, but has yet to watch the first movie or any TV series about the celebrated detective for that matter. If you want to watch a movie that tells the story of how a young Dee came to be the genius detective that he was, this is not the movie for you.
Oh, and there is something mid-credits roll, so stay in your seat for it!Cinema Online, 26 September 2013