User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18

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  1. Sep 19, 2011
    I walked out of this film after about an hour. It's well shot, edited, acted, scored...the CGI is really good, the vistas are occasionally breathtaking....but it seemed like it was part of a Chinese series that I wasn't familiar with,and so I became bored. It was like watching an Indiana Jones movie when you didn't understand any of the cultural references, so the goings-on seemed disconnected and empty. Not enough action, intrigue or suspense from my point of view. Expand
  2. Oct 16, 2011
    In first-century China, people are mysteriously bursting into flames, so, a group of experts is assembled to find out why. If there's any reason to watch the film, it's the martial arts scenes. Peppered throughout the tedious dialogue (in subtitles, no less) are a few jumbled fights that defy all physics. This is less "Crouching Tiger" and more Saturday morning kiddie action. Some of the art direction is interesting, but this is much too talky and unoriginal to merit attention. Expand
  3. Sep 28, 2011
    The Emperor is dead and next in line to replace him is a woman. Never in the history of China has there been an Empress. As her coronation draws closer, loyalties are tested, schemes are rumored, and when people start to literally burst into flames, the stakes can be no higher for all involved. This is the set up for an in-depth mystery with a side of kung fu action. In late 7th century China, thousands of laborers are working under pressure to complete an immensely tall tower in the shape of the Buddha in time for the Empressâ Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    Oct 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. Though I could have done without much of the film's CGI-heavy fakery, "Detective Dee" finds that giddiness more than a few times.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Nilsen
    Sep 29, 2011
    If you can ignore the implausibility -- nay, the opacity -- of the plot, the film is wonderfully cinematic, with great photography, exciting editing, fresh camera angles and some impressive CGI.
  3. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Sep 23, 2011
    A lightweight but enjoyable yarn.