Three decades into his career, Tsui Hark (Peking Opera Blues
, Once Upon a Time in China
) stands as one of the movies' great entertainers, displaying a dancer's sense of rhythm and movement and manipulating physical space with an abandon worthy of Chuck Jones. Set in the seventh century, this wuxia fantasy follows the title character as he investigates a wave of incidents in which people around the imperial palace have spontaneously combusted, and eventually uncovers a plot to overthrow the government. Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs
) gives a charismatic lead performance as Dee, a historical figure who became a folk hero, but the real attraction is Tsui's giddy imagination; among the highlights here are explosives made from flammable beetles, an armed thug revealed to be a giant marionette, and, as always, characters leaping freely into flight. In Mandarin with subtitles.
See our full review:
The flying Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame