- POSTED: 27 Sep 2013 13:40
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“Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” has an intriguing plot, a good cast and some excellent action sequences.
SINGAPORE: “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” has an intriguing plot, a good cast and some excellent action sequences.
A prequel to Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s hit historical fantasy film “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” revolves around the adventures of a young Dee Renjie (Mark Chao).
Set during the Tang Dynasty, Dee attempts to investigate reports in the Chinese capital of Luoyang, about a giant, vengeful sea dragon that has destroyed an entire armada of Chinese warships en-route to invade a hostile nation.
He also gets embroiled in a web of political intrigue, and must uncover the secret of a humanoid ‘sea dragon’ which is bent on kidnapping Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), a beautiful courtesan.
Fortunately for him, Detective Dee has the help of Shatuo Zhong (Lin Gengxin), an apprentice physician, as well as his rival Yuchi Zhenjin (Feng Shaofeng), the highly-skilled head of the justice department, who has been tasked by Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) to find the truth in ten days.
The hunt for the giant sea dragon, the bromance between Yuchi and Dee, the scaly humanoid sea dragon’s obsession with Yin, and a plot to topple the Tang Dynasty – it’s a pretty busy film with lots of stuff going on.
But Tsui manages tie up these story threads film’s end, although it took him some time (the film clocks in at a little over two hours), and some of them were a little underdeveloped.
Chao turns in a good performance as the brash sleuth Dee, and managed to convey the character’s youthful energy as well as impulsiveness, a far cry from Andy Lau's older, more serious Dee in the first film.
Feng also deserves praise for his portrayal of Yuchi, slipping between comedy and serious kung fu scenes with ease.
Carina Lau puts the right amount of gravitas into her character Wu, while Angelababy looks suitably delicate and hapless as the resident damsel in distress Yin.
The cast turned in a good performance, but the film’s biggest draw is still its action sequences.
Those who enjoy classic Hong Kong-style wire-fu will definitely enjoy “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon”, with fights breaking out every so often to make sure things don’t get monotonous.
While computer graphics have been used before in recent Chinese martial arts films, “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” managed to utilise technology relatively well.
It blends just the right amount of computer-generated effects into most of the fights, though it still looks a little stilted and video game-like in certain parts of the movie.
Apart from the action sequences, Tsui has harnessed technology to build the world of “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” as well, offering audiences bird's eye views of exotic locales like the bustling Luoyang harbour and the ominous Bat Island.
While these computer-generated scenes aren’t exactly perfect, they do help create a more immersive experience for viewers, and invites them to step into the world of Detective Dee, a world filled with mystery, intrigue as well as a whole lot of kung fu.
“Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon” is now showing.
Audiences can stick around after the credits roll to see an extra scene and concept art for the film.