The ingenuity and heart from the heydays of the wuxia or period movies are long gone and even the famed directors from that era have taken to substituting special effects and intricate fighting for good storytelling. I still watch them because it’s the equivalent of a popcorn flick, but I do miss the days when such flicks could actually be memorable and engaging beyond the brief flash of excitement. One of my fave Hong Kong directors has long been Tsui Hark, and I can’t even list on one page his movies that I’ve loved because there are so many. For 10 years from 1986 with A Better Tomorrow he went through a decade until 1996 churning out sheer awesome. A Chinese Ghost Story, Once Upon a Time in China, The Killer, The Chinese Feast and more, he kinda started to coast on his name brand and has never recaptured that perfect blend of quality storytelling with fantastically creative directing since then. Recently he had a monster hit with Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame set in a fantasy era Tang dynasty with Andy Lau as the titular Detective Dee and Carina Lau as Empress Wu Zhe Tian. I figured he would do a sequel, but then he surprised me by doing a prequel with a group of young and rising actors. Starring Mark Chao as the young Detective Dee, the prequel is a sea monster tale called Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon. Mark gets to play the three musketeers with Feng Shao Feng as a no-nonsense court investigator and Lin Geng Xin as a medicinal man. Angelababy plays the central femme fatale that brings all the boys to the yard, though its her love line with Kim Bum‘s young scholar from a fallen family that sets the central mystery in motion. I don’t know if an actual sea monster makes an appearance but it sure seems like it from the just released movie trailer (the first trailer was a teaser that didn’t show any of the cast members). Carina Lau makes a return appearance playing Empress Wu, though it’s been two years since she made the first movie this time she’s reverse aging for this role. I don’t need anything deep or complicated, I just want fun and entertaining. Let’s hope the bromance that happened off screen between Lin Geng Xin and Mark Chao make it onscreen, and the fact that Feng Shao Feng carries all the heavy duty martial arts fight scenes is something worth checking out. I posted the first teaser posters earlier but now here comes the official movie and character posters.
Trailer for Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon: