Tag Archives: Mark Chao

Film Review: Detective Dee: Four Heavenly Kings

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Detective Dee: Four Heavenly Kings

Empress Wu (Carina Lau) has been mistrustful of Detective Dee (Mark Chao) ever since the emperor (Chien Sheng) bestowed the Dragon Mace upon the loyal detective. The empress approaches the head of her royal guard, Yuchi Zhenjin (Shaofeng Feng), relying on his loyalty despite knowing how close he is to Dee. She questions whether should she request him to take the Mace from Dee would he do it?  He replies that should he do that, Dee would be subject to execution, his family ruined. She swears she will protect them all.

The Empress lies…

Empress Wu has brought some newcomers to court to replace Dee, claiming they have greater powers. Huan Tian (Aoyue Zhang) and his group demonstrate their abilities before the royal couple. Wu sends them to retrieve the Mace, but that is easier said than done as Dee is wily and no man’s fool. In the meantime, he has been sent on a fool’s errands, but he sees through this and hurries back to the Bureau when someone trips the alarm.


Yuchi is torn between his loyalty to the empress and his friendship for Dee, but Dee’s faith in his friend 

never wavers. It is imperative that he figure out what is going on before something terrible happens – namely, the destruction of the Tang dynasty! And what exactly is on the Empress’s agenda?

This was a really good movie, action-packed and full of intrigue and mystery, as well as magic, and a little comedy. It’s easy to accept how evil the Empress is from earlier acquaintance with her. She is a very power hungry woman. But she is also human and fallible, as we discover.  I liked the interplay between the female assassin (Sichuan Ma) and Dee’s right hand man Shatuo Zhong (Kenny Lin). I have to admit I missed the doctor from the last installment, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this film..

Ancient grudges, sinister magic, spirituality, intrigue… this film has it all and then some.  I’m sad that there are no more movies with this same cast, although there appear to be others utilizing the same character.  I think I’ll give those a pass. Although there may be, if the glimpses in the ending credits are any indication. If you are interested, check out the Judge Dee stories, the original inspiration for Detective Dee. I reviewed the first book on this blog already.

I’ll give this film a strong 4.5 Stars

Film Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) is newly arrived in the Imperial Capital with the intention of joining the Court of Judicature and Revision. There is tension in the city due to the attack of a mysterious sea monster which destroyed many ships. Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) has charged Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng) with solving the problem within ten days. A courtesan is also arriving in the city, Yin Ruiji (Angelababy), who is to be a sacrifice to the creature. Dee overhears a plot to kidnap her. As he fights the kidnappers, Yin is kidnapped another sea creature who is more humanoid than the one she is meant to be sacrificed to. Dee rescues her and the creature escapes. Yuchi has Dee arrested and Yin put into protective custody, but Dee is able to escape with the aid of a friendly medical assistant Shatuo (Lin Gengxin).

Yin is visited by the sea creature again, which is when she realizes who he is – her missing lover, Yuan Zhen (Kim Bum). Masked thugs attack the house, but luckily, Dee, Yuchi, and Shatuo arrive to save the day and Dee is able to rescue Yuchi. Yin covers for Yuan so he can escape, then tells Dee the truth abut her lover. Dee, using his remarkable powers of deduction, deduces that the culprits come from the small war-ridden nation of Dondo, who plan to use Yuan to poison the imperial tea and kill the emperor. They find Yuan and take him to the Imperial Doctor Wang Pu (Kun Chen), who uncovers the cause of Yuan’s transformation and is able to cure him.


But how to deal with the enormous sea dragon that is still menacing the kingdom?

This film takes place before Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame. This is Dee’s first case and Mark Chao’s first appearance as the detective. I loved this film from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and was not disappointed with this one. The action is fast-paced, young Dee is as delightful as his older self, and just as clever. Watching him square off against the Empress is a delight. Keep a special eye out for the appearance of Kun Chen as Doctor Wang Pu. He is just delightful (and he has a monkey arm. You’ll have to watch to find out why).


There is a third movie in the series, and hopefully will be others, and I will watch it, for sure. In the meantime, I’ll give this film a strong 4 Stars.