Hark Tsui, the famous Hong Kong movie director who has a list of well-received martial arts flicks in his credit, is coming back with an all- star historical martial arts suspense thriller – Detective Dee (and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame). I know, that is a long list of nouns to remember.
His last martial arts piece was the samurai-esque Seven Swords (2005), which also boasts of Hong Kong superstars including Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, and Charlie Yeung. This time around, Tsui got a $13 million budget (which is a lot in the Chinese film world, believe me!) from Huayi Brothers’ production company. Leading the all-star cast are Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs), Carina Lau (Ashes of Time), and Bingbing Li (Forbidden Kingdom).
The story takes place in the Tang Dynasty and is based on the real-life historical figure, detective Di Ren Jie (or Dee). As a series of mysterious deaths of high court officials takes place within the palace, Empress Wu Zetian (the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant) calls back Detective Dee (Andy Lau), whom she had cast into exile eight years ago. During the investigations, Dee teams up with commander Bei and a master of disguise nicknamed Ghost Doctor.
Shooting has begun in May of 2009; Sammo Hung will be working as the action director on set. Huayi Brothers hope to finish filming by the end of this summer.
(Sammo Hung on set)
Promotional Logo at the Cannes Film Festival of 2009
According to Chinese entertainment portal, Sina, the first press conference for the film was held on June 11, 2009 in Hengtai, where Forbideen Kingdom finished shooting in 2007.