|YOUNG DETECTIVE LEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON (DIE RENJIE: SHEN DU LONG WANG) (director/writer: Tsui Hark; screenwriters: Zhang Jialu/Chang Chia-lu/based on the story by Chen Kuo-fu & Tsui Hark; cinematographer: Choi Sung-fai; editor: Yu Baiyang; music: Kenji Kawai; cast: Mark Chao (Detective Dee), Angelababy (Yin Ruiji), Feng Shaofeng (Yuchi Zhenjin), Lin Gengxin (Dr Shatuo Zhong), Carina Lau (Empress Wu), Ian Kim (Yuan Zhen), Chen Kun (Dr Wang Pu), Hu Dong (Huo Yi), Seng Chien (The Emperor), Lin Chao Hsu (Cheng An); Runtime: 134; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Zhang Dajun/James Tsim; Well Go USA; 2013-China-in Mandarin & Putonghua with English subtitles)|
|"A lively and lushly filmed
action-packed adventure film."
by Dennis Schwartz
lively and lushly filmed action-packed adventure
film by famed US educated Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui
Hark ("We're Going To Eat You"/"Zu:
Warriors from the Magic Mountain"/"The Butterfly
Murders"), who is now based in Beijing. Tsui
co-writes it with Zhang Jialu and Chang Chia-lu, and
it's based on the story by Chen
Kuo-fu & the director.
set in China,
665 A.D, in Luoyang, the capital city, where the
Tang Dynasty rules with the Emperor (Seng Chien) and the real power
behind the throne, Empress Wu (Carina Lau). When the Imperial fleet is
attacked by a sea monster and destroyed, the country
fears they are being attacked by insurgents and a
full-scale investigation is ordered by the Empress.
At this time, Detective Lee (Mark Chao) arrives from
another territory for duty at the Department of
Justice and is placed under the command of the
Detective Yuchi (Feng
Shaofeng), the department head. Yuchi
is commanded by the Empress to find the attackers within
ten days or be beheaded, and Lee is determined to
help. Using Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction, Lee
deduces an attempt to abduct the
courtesan Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), who is held
before her ritual sacrifice to the Imperial regime
at the Sea Dragon Temple, under Imperial guards. It
turns out the masked kidnappers are her rescuers,
who are led by her lover Yuan
Zhen (Ian Kim),
who was poisoned with parasites placed in his tea
and the handsome poet was turned into a scaled
monster. Lee stops the abduction only to be
wrongfully arrested by Yuchi, but is determined that
he must help the courtesan and her deformed lover.
So through his cunning and people skills, Lee
convinces the young prison doctor, Shatuo (Lin Gengxin), to free him from
prison and for the doctor to treat the former
teahouse owner turned monster vic with an herbal
cure. After more complex developments clues lead to
evidence that the neighboring island people of Dondo
are using a different sea monster in their plans to
conquer the Tang Dynasty and rule the land after
invading it with heavy weaponry, and it's up to Lee
to save the day despite Yuchi being jealous and
never completely trusting him.
The Imperials are depicted
as not so nice royals, who care only about
themselves and not their subjects, while the rivals
are also not nice. You would think Hark is dropping
some message about working blindly for those in
power or those trying to get power.
It played in theaters in Imax 3-D versions, as Hark has made a visual masterpiece using his invention of stereoscopic cameras and a host of special effects to make it a first-class spectacle. The film is an entertaining action-packed film with one great choreographed fight and chase set piece after another--ad nauseam--to keep things pleasingly fast paced.
REVIEWED ON 6/21/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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