Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Overlooked Movies -- Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
This is the most recent movie I've talked about here, but I think it's a fair choice. It hardly screened in U. S. theaters, and it disappeared quickly from the screens it did appear on. George Kelley reviewed it a few months ago, and some of his commenters weren't thrilled with the subtitles. I turned them off and went for the dubbed version, which worked out fine.
There's very little connection between this movie and the novels about Judge Dee by Robert van Gulik. They're both based on the same historical character, and they're both keen detectives, but that's about it. This novel has a lot more fantasy and action than the Judge Dee novels as I remember them.
In China in the 7th century, the first (and only) woman emperor in China's history is about to be crowned. Someone doesn't want that to happen. There are bizarre murders involving spontaneous combustion, tons of great action scenes (directed by Sammo Hung), characters who can transfigure themselves, masked assassins, thousands of arrows and logs flying through the air, a giant statue of the Buddha, mysteries to solve, red herrings, and more. All beautifully photographed, too. I got a big kick out of this one.