One of the best films I saw in Venice, Hong Kong action maestro Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and The Mystery of the Phantom Flame, finally landed a U.S. release from new distributor Indomina Releasing, which has been on a buying spree lately and coughed up nearly $500,000, reports Film Business Asia, to acquire the rip-roaring action epic, which was a big hit in China (trailer below).
Here’s what I wrote in Venice:
Tsui’s Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is an effective Hong Kong epic adventure jammed with extravagant VFX and starring high cheek-boned Andy Lau as the canny fearless incorruptible policeman of the title. He’s working for two powerful women, the power-hungry would-be first empress in China (Carina Lau), and her lieutenant (Bingbing Li, pictured), who is sent to aid the detective (and spy on him) in a toxic environment where many oppose the empress and nobody trusts anyone. Dee is trying to figure out why a series of people keep spontaneously bursting into flame—and keep the Empress Wu alive until her coronation. It’s Tsui’s homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hong Kong-style. It seems that as the West’s film industries implode, Asia is where the action—and the money—is.
Red carpet at Venice: