'Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame' Critic Reviews

100%
MovieWeb:   1 reviews
81%
Rotten Tomatoes:   49 reviews
  • A.O. Scott New York Times (Top Critic)
    80
    Witty but not campy, grand without being unduly somber, it is a crazy, almost-coherent riot of intrigue, color and kineticism anchored by the charisma of its cast.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • John DeFore Washington Post (Top Critic)
    50
    "Dee" doesn't shoot for the gravitas of Zhang Yimou's "Hero." It doesn't approach that film's magnificent sensory impact, either, or the artistic romanticism that made "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" such a success here.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Mark Feeney Boston Globe (Top Critic)
    63
    It's slambang in pacing, bald in exposition, and offers cast-of-hundreds spectacle.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • J. Hoberman Village Voice (Top Critic)
    Magnificent and cheesy, the latest and most proudly absurd of Chinese historical spectaculars, Detective Dee is a cinematic comic book for people who are sick of the mode.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News (Top Critic)
    60
    Director Tsui Hark sets expansive melodrama against flamboyant sets, and the all-star cast is up for even the most outlandish of Sammo Hung's action choreography.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • John Anderson Wall Street Journal (Top Critic)
    Some of the action in "Detective Dee" is computer-generated hallucination, some is just good-old life-threatening stunt work, but it is almost always a thrill.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times (Top Critic)
    88
    A bewitching fantasy.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Ben Sachs Chicago Reader (Top Critic)
    Three decades into his career, Tsui Hark 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.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer (Top Critic)
    88
    Is it possible for Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame to be any more riotously over-the-top than it is?
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Richard Nilsen Arizona Republic (Top Critic)
    60
    It is a peculiar conflation of history -- there really was an Empress Wu -- and pure cinematic fantasy.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Justin Chang Variety (Top Critic)
    An inventive marriage of ancient China and Agatha Christie.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • V.A. Musetto New York Post (Top Critic)
    50
    All this is loads of fun, but after a while sensory overload sets in, dulling the mind. Even in a kung-fu flick, more isn't always better.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Linda Barnard Toronto Star (Top Critic)
    75
    A colourful carnival of relentless action and artful images.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Eric Kohn indieWIRE (Top Critic)
    67
    Hark delivers a highly enjoyable alternative to Western blockbusters by simply keeping the narrative in flux with a series of well-executed sequences -- a cinema of distraction, if you will.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Stephen Cole Globe and Mail (Top Critic)
    100
    Detective Dee is the action flick of the year, a two-hour epic that blows the Pirates of the Caribbean to the Bermuda Triangle.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Neil Young Hollywood Reporter (Top Critic)
    Full Review » 2 years ago
  • Deborah Young Hollywood Reporter (Top Critic)
    Breathtaking sets and effects give this youthful martial arts film a modern air.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Richard Corliss TIME Magazine (Top Critic)
    We'd call it Crouching Tiger, Freakin' Masterpiece.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Kevin Thomas Los Angeles Times (Top Critic)
    80
    Chang Chia-lu's intricate script bristles with wit and suspense; the film from start to finish is a terrific entertainment.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Mike Goodridge Screen International
    Full Review » 2 years ago
  • John Beifuss Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
    75
    The game's afoot, and the foot knows kung fu.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Duane Dudek Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    63
    There is nothing wrong with its reach, but its grasp of genre elements is random.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Mike Russell Oregonian
    67
    In their best moments, Hark's action movies have a what-did-I-just-see giddiness, as if their choreography were springing straight from a cartoon id.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Chris Chang Film Comment Magazine
    The film's visual style is at times so dense it simply overwhelms (ditto the plot).
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Kelly Vance East Bay Express
    The huge budget fails to hide a certain poverty of imagination.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
AVG. RATING 4.7 SUPERB
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