4 and a 1/2 out of 5 stars
The mystical meets mystery in this fabulous gem of a movie featuring Taiwanese actor Mark Chao as the young Detective Dee. Nothing goes right in this Tsui Hark-directed Chinese flick set in the Tang dynasty.
First, there's the sea dragon that appears out of the blue and terrorises everything. Completely unrelated to the monster is another freaky, scaly beast that lives in the swamps, awaiting his chance to capture the famous, most beautiful courtesan in the land, Yin Ruiji (Angelababy).
Who is he? Where does he come from? Why are we smelling a Beauty And The Beast plot here?
The Emperor is then afflicted by a mysterious illness that the physicians can't cure. This prequel to Tsui's 2010 hit, Detective Dee And The Mystery of the Phantom Flame, which starred Andy Lau, hits all the right notes with its fast-paced action scenes that look glorious in 3-D.
Also, instead of having a single conundrum to mull over at a time, having a multitude of inter-linked puzzles makes for brilliant, brainstimulating entertainment.
Chao puts in a noteworthy effort, while Angelababy is spectacular eye candy. Just don't cringe when the beast kisses her because, well, he actually turns out to be the prettier one.
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