Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

  • 12
  • Tsui Hark (2010)
  • Chi / HK (SUB)
  • 118 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

Forensic science, mystical forces and electrifying action combine to thrilling effect in this Asian box-office hit set in the seventh century. Andy Lau stars as the brilliant but treasonous lawman who's granted a reprieve by Empress Wu (Carina Lau) when two of her officials spontaneously combust. Fearing further deaths will compromise the safety of her impending coronation, she puts Lau in charge of the investigation, albeit under the watchful eyes of her female bodyguard (Li Bingbing) and a quick-tempered albino from the judiciary (Chau Deng). The trio's uneasy alliance creates some enjoyable sparks as they each try to gain the upper hand, but it's the supernatural elements of this medieval mystery that are the most interesting - the reclusive, shape-shifting Chaplain in particular being a wonderfully way-out creation. Seasoned director Tsui Hark (Seven Swords, Once upon a Time in China) blends ravishing scenery with skilfully choreographed set pieces, and keeps the story bounding along so that certain gaps in logic and character inconsistencies are forgotten about until the end credits roll. In the meantime, there's plenty of intrigue, excitement and adventure to dazzle, delight and amaze.

Plot Summary

Period action adventure starring Andy Lau. China, 689AD: when government inspectors pay a site visit to a huge statue being built in honour of the future empress, one of the men spontaneously bursts into flames and dies. The tragedy is swiftly followed by another man suffering the same fate, prompting the appointment of the exiled Detective Dee (Lau) to head a task force to solve the mystery, which threatens preparations for the impending coronation.

Cast and crew


Detective Dee
Andy Lau


Tsui Hark

Other Information

Mandarin +subtitles
Available on DVD and BluRay
Certificate 12
Showbox Media Group Ltd