Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (PG13)
Starring Mark Chao, Feng Shaofeng, Carina Lau
Directed by Tsui Hark
The second prequel to the 2010 Tang Dynasty-set Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Andy Lau, where are you?) picks up where Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon left off five years ago.
Can’t remember anything from that last movie? Well, you aren’t alone. Just know this: The eponymous sleuth, again played by Mark Chao, has a bust-up with power-hungry Empress Wu (Carina Lau) over a weapon called Dragon-Taming Mace (it’s made from stardust!).
She summons the Mystic Clan, a flamboyant gang of sorcerer-pugilists with WWE-worthy monikers (Night Ghost, Smoke Volant, Water Moon) to steal the mace. Meanwhile, Dee stumbles upon a plot by an evil cult to overthrow the government….
It’s hard to keep up with the unnecessarily complicated narrative, which has a ‘make-it-up-as-they-go-along’ feel. Probably because director and co-writer Tsui Hark seems less interested in spinning a compelling whodunit/political thriller than splurging on a bloated CG lovefest that includes a full-scale monster rumble involving a Mighty Joe Young-sized albino ape. Check, please! (**1/2)
Photo: Shaw Organisation