Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings has far too much CG and wirework which gets distracting during the action scenes but it’s unlike anything else you’ll see this year and the sheer imagination on display make it worth watching.
Plot: Accused of wrongdoing by Empress Wu, Detective Dee faces a formidable foe while investigating a crime wave that’s marked by strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences.
Review: I haven’t seen the other two Detective Dee movies so I had no real idea what to expect from The Four Heavenly Kings; it’s not normally the type of movie I like as I hate wirework and CG of which there is plenty but the sheer imagination on display kept me intrigued.
Detective Dee (Mark Chau) is essentially a Sherlock Holmes type character with a far more fantastical element. Dee doesn’t display much in the way of emotion but always seems to be one step ahead of his enemies due to his quick thinking and high intellect; his sense of honour and duty also make him immediately appealing.
In this entry Dee is forced to defend himself against the accusations of Empress Wu while investigating a crime spree with various supposedly supernatural forces trying to take the dragon mace from him.
This is one of the most bizarre and crazy movies I’ve seen this year but despite the CG/wirework overload I was transported away to another world and just enjoyed the stunning costume and set design.
At various points I had no real clue what was going on and when the giant white ape appeared I kind of zoned out a little. Most of the fantastical elements however, were products of trickery and weren’t meant to be real so that’s what kept me watching.
At 2 hours and 11 minutes though it is very long and could have had a few minutes trimmed for pacing. It’s never boring though with action scenes every few minutes; some are quite impressively done with a lot of energy but like I said the wirework in particular is obvious and distracting.
It certainly wasn’t predictable and you do have to pay attention so you don’t lose track of the plot so best leave checking your Facebook/Instagram until after the end credits.
Themes of betrayal and letting go of inner demons/hatred are the order of the day here giving the movie a little depth even if you’ll never really feel anything while watching.
Overall, Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings is easily the most strangely compelling movie I’ve watched this year with some bonkers ideas and at times stunning visuals. There is far too much CG and if you hate wirework then this won’t change your opinion but if you’re looking for something a little different then check it out.