‘Detective Dee’: Kenneth Turan’s film pick of the week


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If you’ve got a hankering for some old-fashioned Hong Kong action-fantasy entertainment brought up to date with nifty special effects and sterling production values, the delirious epic ‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame,’ directed by canny veteran Tsui Hark, is for you.

‘Detective Dee’s’ plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but who needs sense when you have talking deer, stars like Andy Lau and Bingbing Li and martial arts action choreographed by the veteran Sammo Hung.


The plot takes you back to 690 A.D. and involves a fierce female empress fighting to survive, the world’s largest Buddha and folks who burst into flame for no apparent reason. Good thing the redoubtable Detective Dee is on the case.

‘Detective Dee’ is holding at the Landmark in West Los Angeles and opening in half a dozen other theaters across the Southland: Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, AMC Broadway 4 in Santa Monica, AMC Block 30 in Orange, AMC Times Square 14 in Monterey Park, Edwards Town Center 6 in Irvine and Edwards Stadium West 10 in Brea.

See it on the biggest screen you can.


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-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic