Wuxia is a specific genre of stories of martial arts heroes mixed with fantasy and old Chinese lore. To put it on terms of movies, it’s basically Chinese martial fiction. Wuxia and Fantasia seems like a marriage made in heaven, so it’s not the first time the popular film festival features an adventure of Detective Dee.
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings is a prequel of a sequel from the original. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have watched the previous movies to know what’s going on. Director Tsui Hark has crafted a colorful universe of assassins, thugs, investigators and quasi-supernatural beings that can perform tricks and sorcery to blind the most astute member of the Bureau of Investigations.
Unfortunately for his enemies, Detective Dee (Mark Chao) is always one step ahead. He always has an elaborate strategy concocted to fool his enemies and keep the Royals safe from harm. Too bad the Empress (Carina Lao) is jealous of his status in the Royal Court as he has become recipient of a powerful weapon: the Dragon Taming Mace. Dee will have to resort to his entire bag of tricks and his powerful intellect to keep it safe from being stolen as the Mystic Clan is hot on his trail.
Dee is not above using trickery and deceit to mislead his enemies, although his detective abilities also require knowledge of the mystic arts. In other words, don’t think you’re going to be able to deduce anything before he does. I did like the fact that he’s a normal man smart enough to anticipate his enemies’ moves rather than stronger for strength’s sake. Dee also relies on a host of allies, friends and enemies turns into allies and friends. That speaks volumes of his use of diplomacy and loyalty to bring people to his side.
Recommended for Wuxia enthusiasts and martial arts fans. Despite some of the fantasy and CGI, you get a lot of martial arts and some cleverly crafted weapons (I want one of those foldable crossbows that the Bureau of Investigation uses). The final confrontation requires more magic than martial arts, so it’s more of a CGI battle than a martial arts duel. It’s a good choice of a movie to end Fantasia 2018.
That will do for now.