Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Reviews

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John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
November 17, 2011
The game's afoot, and the foot knows kung fu.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Duane Dudek
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 20, 2011
There is nothing wrong with its reach, but its grasp of genre elements is random.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Mike Russell
Oregonian
October 13, 2011
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 | Original Score: B
Chris Chang
Film Comment Magazine
October 9, 2011
The film's visual style is at times so dense it simply overwhelms (ditto the plot).
Kelly Vance
East Bay Express
October 6, 2011
The huge budget fails to hide a certain poverty of imagination.
Marjorie Baumgarten
Austin Chronicle
September 29, 2011
Creative spectacle, humor, and suspense drive the film, and we can only hope that Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame kicks off a new mystery franchise.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
September 29, 2011
It is a peculiar conflation of history -- there really was an Empress Wu -- and pure cinematic fantasy.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
John Hartl
Seattle Times
September 26, 2011
By the end, with the running time pushing past the two-hour mark, it's reasonable to ask: Just who are these people?
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
James Verniere
Boston Herald
September 23, 2011
Directed by the master Tsui Hark, 'Detective Dee' is one rip-snorting piece of action-movie eye candy,
Full Review | Original Score: A minus
Top Critic
Stephen Cole
Globe and Mail
September 23, 2011
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 | Original Score: 4/4
Norman Wilner
NOW Toronto
September 23, 2011
Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame is a thriller, an action movie, an effects-heavy mythical adventure and even a little bit of a love story. In short, it's every sort of film director Tsui Hark has made in the past all rolled into one.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
John DeFore
Washington Post
September 23, 2011
"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 | Original Score: 2/4
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul)
St. Paul Pioneer Press
September 23, 2011
A computer-generated fantasia where something as ridiculous as a fistfight that occurs while the fighters are on the backs of two different horses entertains us because it is so audaciously unreal.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Corey Hall
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
September 22, 2011
...feels like a return to the thrilling salad days of HK action - but with a contemporary spin.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Ben Sachs
Chicago Reader
September 22, 2011
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.
Top Critic
Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
September 22, 2011
A colourful carnival of relentless action and artful images.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 22, 2011
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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Mark Feeney
Boston Globe
September 22, 2011
It's slambang in pacing, bald in exposition, and offers cast-of-hundreds spectacle.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Frank Swietek
One Guy's Opinion
September 22, 2011
Spectacular and spectacularly goofy...Even if you find the story ludicrous, the visuals will keep your eyes occupied--if not your mind.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 22, 2011
A bewitching fantasy.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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