User Score
6.7

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. Oct 16, 2011
    4
    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
  2. Oct 10, 2011
    7
    Being a big fan of Crouching Tiger, House of Daggers, Hero, etc., I had to see this film. Although I would rank it last among those great films, I still enjoyed it. It doesn't possess the strong character development of those other great films, but is so strong on the visuals that it is a feast for the eyes. The plot is way too confusing but in the end I could figure most of it out. The fight scenes are Hollywood style - a moving camera and extreme close-ups so you can't see what's going on. They are not the great choreographed style of Crouching Tiger. The CGI varies - the giant Buddha looks fantastic, but the deer was jittery and fake looking. Overall I enjoyed the film due to the visual delights. I probably will purchase it is Blu-ray because it looks so great. Costumes, interior/exterior designs, beautiful locations - it excels in those areas. Expand
  3. Oct 8, 2011
    8
    Detective Dee is not a Western Action flick. That sort of big-budget explodey-CGI belongs to Hollywood, and that's where it should stay. Instead, it delivers a sort of goofy mashup between solid physical stunts, and the floaty impossibility of Crouching Tiger-style acrobatics. Yeah, there's some sleuthing too - the plot is rooted in Detective Dee's ability to solve a series of mysterious murders before the first ever female emperor is coronated - but the mystery aspect (and much of the dialogue, actually) is, if possible, even less probable than the rest of the film. Part of this can be explained by the cultural divide. Detective Dee is very much a Chinese film, both in setting and content. Don't expect a Sherlock Holmes clone, and you won't be disappointed... but don't expect a Crouching Tiger knockoff either. Detective Dee makes its own place somewhere in-between, and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure flick awash with kooky sight gags, some questionable CGI, and a few instances of honest to goodness suspense. Expand
  4. Sep 28, 2011
    4
    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
  5. Sep 19, 2011
    4
    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
  6. Sep 14, 2011
    8
    I'm pretty open minded when it comes to movies...just looking to be entertained. And I fully was! Sure, the plot is sometimes hard to follow with subtitles, but it was so adventurous and really fun to watch. It felt epic at times, woozy weird at times and kept my eyes wide. All over the place. I haven't seen anything like it before, so I'm glad I got to see it.
  7. Sep 3, 2011
    7
    The detective and the emperor-to-be's #2 are both excellent and entertaining as hell, and the visuals are fantastic. But things seem to unravel a bit over the last 30 minutes such that it doesn't conclude in the most satisfying way. I'd still recommend it, but it requires a bit more patience than other flicks of this genre. If you're into talking deers - step up!
Metascore
75

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
    75
    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
    60
    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
    50
    A lightweight but enjoyable yarn.