Detective Dee is forced to defend himself against the accusations of Empress Wu while investigating a crime spree.
This marks the return of Detective Dee after the success of the first release 7 years ago. Main character Di Renjie is a former detective from the Tang Dynasty that was ordered by Empress Wu Zetian to solve mysterious murder cases.
Cast & Credits
The story: As expert in the Investigation bureau, Dee has to protect himself this time from accusations of the Empress. This leads him to a sect with origins from India, using sorcery and illusions to harm the empire and the emperor. The story has a lot of surprises, and there is no boring sequences. Lots of action scenes and plots to discover.
The cast: they all did very solid performance. Refreshing to see Juan Ethan here, after I finished "Legend of Fu Yao". William Feng does a great job as Di Renjie's friend Yuchi and head of the Golden guard. I love actions scenes he is in. Carina Lau is good as always as the empress. Mark Chao and Lin Geng Xin are like Sherlock and Dr Watson; they know each other well, and chemistry is excellent. Sandra Ma is a new face to me, but she does it pretty well as a female assassin.
The cgi/effects: Because the story includes a lot of illusions, I am amazed by the effects done in this movie. It looks great, and had their natural space in the movie. Very well animated
Overall, I enjoyed the 2 hours the movie lasted, and I think I will watch it again to make sure I got all the details in it. Highly recommended if you love fantasy, FX and a bit of ancient myths
The story was never really boring and kept me mostly intrigued but neither did it have me doing much guesswork and in retrospect it wasn't special at all. It's probably a fun watch for someone who likes cheesy action flicks and is a better movie in my opinion than the likes of The Huntresses or Gods of Egypt, but is also a movie I'll be throwing into the mix with those movies as oh cool never watching that again.
While the movie doesn't get boring, I was also not super invested and there were some plot devices I thought didn't work and some things that they didn't even try to explain. I think the weirdest part of how they told the story was leaving some important closure until after the credits had started rolling. I was about to close the film, thinking that they were just going to leave the audience unsatisfied and then some after credit scenes started playing cut up by more credits and only explained a few small story ends and then it was over... I found the decision to do that entirely unnecessary but oh well.
One item I can praise this movie for is the CGI. It's not perfect and there were some fake elements, but it was a lot better than I was expecting and I'm usually a CGI snob.
We have a good list of actors/actresses in this movie and they all perform well, just don't expect the parts to force their finest or for anything else spectacular here. As a Sandra Ma fan I was a bit disappointed with the lack luster performance from her, but it wasn't bad acting, just not much to do. The character was supposed to be a bit quirky but it came off as odd instead of the endearing General she's played you know where else. I felt similarly with the other characters. Nothing really special here. Fortunately there really wasn't any of those over acted crazy people that can be found in a lot of movies and dramas so that is a plus... well, okay one or two slightly crazy acted people but it's manageable. Think crazy old witch lady and the like.
The music was fairly decent and fit with the movie. I even listened to the whole end credits song. Nothing Hans Zimmerlike but it was good orchestration.
Rewatch Value (4.0):
As with many lackluster films, I doubt I'll ever watch this one again, but I can't say I'm sad I watched it.
If you're bored and would like to waste an evening in dubious fun, have at it. It's actually a fair bit better than a lot of other Asian B movies like The Huntresses or Bounty Hunters but you're not getting a super quality film either. That said, the effects are surprisingly good and you'll have a smile or two with some minimal guesswork. Have at it.