Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings
Tsui Hark is kind of a Hong Kong cinematic legend along the lines of John Woo and countless other directors of the 80s and 90s. I’m actually surprised the man is still directing at a rapid pace some 30 years later. He’s still a bit of a strange bird in his directorial style, usually having some sort of style over substance direction to his movies, and he loves to lean towards the supernatural. Thus, the adaptation of the (now) three Detective Dee films is right up his alley. The first one was a fun little flick that mixed in bits of BBC Sherlock with Robert Downey’s Sherlock Holmes further embedded them in Tang Dynasty legends. It’s a fun twist that has gone well for the three films so far, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of them. This third entry is actually Tsui Hark’s most accessible film yet, forgoing much of the loose plot structure and leaps in plot hole logic that he’s so infamous for, in lieu of more traditional storytelling (albeit with a supernatural twist that he LOVES so much). I ended up enjoying The Four Heavenly Kings even more than Rise of the Sea Dragon, and almost on par with the original film. It’s got a few typical Tsui Hark foibles in the third act, but overall it’s a fun action/mystery film with a great cast.
The film takes place shortly after Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon as Dee (Mark Chao) is being honored for taking out the mystical Dragon with a gift of a magical mace. This mace is reportedly made from stardust and harder than anything on Earth, giving it’s owner powers (that are sadly unexplained for the most part) over even the Emperor himself. The Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) is not exactly pleased with her husband’s gift of the mace, and sets out to make sure that Dee can never use this power against their dynasty. Using her husband’s “golden guard” and a conflicted Yuchi (Shaofeng Feng), who is friend’s with the great detective, and a group of mystical sorcerers, the Empress sets out to take the mace back and take out Detective Dee Renjie if she can.
As much as the queen is the obvious villain for her treachery, there is a much more malevolent force controlling the mystical sorcerers and the even the Empress herself. A powerful magic (that is seemingly SO real, but tricks in the end) force is pulling strings, shifting things around pitting friend against friend in order to deal a death blow to the Dynasty that put them in exile decades ago.
Mark Chao has really come into the role this time. Originally Andy Lau (the hardest working Asian actor alive in my opinion) played an aging Dee, but in the last film Chao took over the role as a much younger man. I really like his direction and ticks, as he fills the character with a lot of pep and excitement as the younger variation of the famous historical man. Carina Lau is deliciously despicable, (and she has played the Empress for all three films), while Yuchi is wonderful as the butt kicker of the series. While there certainly is a bit more substance this time around, Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings is ALL Tsui Hark, and that means there’s going to be quirks, twists and leaps of logic here and there to get used to.
Not Rated by the MPAA
I’ve really enjoyed all three Detective Dee films so far, and have enjoyed where Tsui has taken the series. The Four Heavenly Kings is easily the most accessible of the three films, and seems a bit more polished and focused than his last outing in particular. Chao is my favorite of the two actors who have played Dee over the trilogy so far, and I’m really hoping that Tsui decides to continue on with the series, as there’s a myriad of old legendary material for him to pull from still. The Blu-ray is nothing short of stunning, showcasing perfect audio and video to enjoy, but sadly (and typically) having almost no extras. Still, definitely worth a good watch.
Starring: Shaofeng Feng, Carina Lau, Mark Chao, Sichun Ma, Ethan Juan, Kenny Lin
Directed by: Tsui Hark
Written by: Chia-Lu Chang
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS:X, Mandarin DTS Headphone:X, Mandarin DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 132 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 13th 2018
Recommendation: Fun Watch