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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Autumn 2014

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013) movie review

Fantastic Fun

Bonkers is not the word. Utterly bonkers is close...

Prequel to the very entertaining Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame, this film details how the eponymous Detective Dee came to work for the Imperial Court. As such, the only actor to return is Carina Lau as Empress Wu, reprising her role as the harsh, unforgiving regent.

The story is mad. It manages to cram in political intrigue, professional rivalry, a beauty and the beast story, some Creature From The Black Lagoon imagery, ocean warfare, mad martial arts (a la Crouching Tiger...), action, comedy and a giant fuck off sea monster.

Movie poster, Young Detective Dee, Festivale film review; 220x323

Movie poster, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

It's really good fun and races along from one set piece to the next. The only negatives are, it's a touch messy and could do with more focus on the characters, it relies heavily on CGI for the fights and the subtitles are sometimes far too fast to read. However, these are minor points as it's all carried out with verve and exuberance. The design is stunning, no one uses colours quite like Hong Kong/Chinese cinema (I missed some of the subtitles because I was staring at the set - a rare thing for me) and the 'Sea Dragon' is possibly the best realised CGI monster I've seen in a long time (even compared to stuff like The Hobbit - it has a solidity that a lot of Hollywood films lack).

Well worth a watch. I really hope there're more.

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by Paul M. Feeney
Australian release October 3 2013
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Just the facts:

Title: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013)
Written by: Hark Tsui, Chia-lu Chang, Kuo-fu Chen
Directed by: Hark Tsui
Running time: min

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