Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon; set in the realm of the Tang Dynasty, China 665 AD; this Chinese historical fantasy flick kicks off with a mysterious juggernaut of a tidal wave, that strikes upon a commanded-man oeuvre, not only ravages the Chinese naval ships, but exterminates all of its soldiers at one stroke. Soon after this bizarre event, some rumors begin to travel around, how a ravenous Sea Dragon roams the ocean. Meanwhile, another paranormal-sighting of a mysterious two-legged, moldy, greenish creature surfaces, that quakes folks to their deepest fear.
A young man (Mark Chao) who is intrigued by these two bizarre cases, embarks on a journey to unravel the underlying truth behind the mystery of these seemingly superficial folklores. This is no ordinary young man, but the one who is destined to be the legendary Detective Dee (previously played by Andy Lau in Detective Dee). This historical flick also starred by Lin Gengxin, a timid physician whom Dee enlists for his help, and also Feng Shaofeng, an overbearing admiral, who stands in Dee’s way.
The plot: It may appear a little corny at first, certainly the opening quarter, with the usual stereotypical concept, a la Beauty and the Beast, but with an interesting twist at the close of this effort, makes this movie stand out, and the bigger picture behind the mystery, as it unfolds for us. The two hour plus story arc, holds us rapt as it tells a riveting tale, enough to have us gripping our seats.
Being a huge fan of Jerry Bruckheimer, I can confidently put Tsui Hark in his category, and although I can count on one hand how many Asian films I have watched in a year, compared to Hollywood films, I make an exceptional case for this one, as it's now one of my top Asian films. I don't know, but maybe because I grew up with Tsui Hark’s films, I'm more inclined to give him a straight pass, for sure.
In relation to his past work, Tsui has substantially advanced his filmmaking skill, with astounding progress. I think Tsui Hark and Jerry Bruckheimer do have something in common, despite their differences in nationality and race, you can see their similarity reflected in the films they churn out, and are commercially driven more than anything. Both of the filmmakers are now commercially viable in the Asian market.
Regarding the FX, and unlike those lame wannabe types, at least the CG effects in Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon are not over-done and almost measure up to Hollywood CG basic standard, which is very high. the action sequences were extremely dynamic and acrobatic, as the cast immaculately gyrated away in this film. The actions do eventually make sense. Trust me on this. At least they didn't try out a flying human in a fray, right?
Review by Casey Ng, Contributing Writer
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