Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon 狄仁傑之神都龍王 (2013)

The film’s opening is boring although a sea battle between an army and a sea monster takes place. Worst, Mark Chao’s almost lifeless voice over (which is quite badly written) doesn’t add any juice. For the first 15 minutes or so, I had a thought I could re-dub the boring dialogue and incidents happening to make a comical version out of it when the DVD releases. It’s a good thing this thought disappeared for the rest of the film becomes better.

Not much excitement to really draw you in at the start but the film’s pace speeds up and the action sequences help to redeem the otherwise boring film of the year.


As with Tsui Hark, one can expect fantasy elements to appear in his films. And also with Tsui Hark, you know the plot is quite predictable, it’s not too hard to guess what’s the “mystery” behind this film although it’s supposed to be a crime solving film. Well, though I just said the plot is predictable, there are several things that keep you watching on.


The action sequences are something worth watching – how often do you see a man riding a white horse in the middle of the vast ocean? Now that is something I would very much love to do! The above picture is just one of the underwater horse riding scene, there’s a cooler one with Mark Chao 🙂

Besides underwater fights, you have men hanging on a cliff and fighting to save their lives. The fight sequences are pretty much exciting, not a let down compared to the previous Detective Dee film (starring Andy Lau) which still has room for improvement.


I don’t know how often can such films be made again and continue to attract audience. It’s not a bad film but definitely the Asian cinema scene can have a boost with something fresh. This could be a wishful thought but what if the budget spent making Young Detective Dee were spent on something else, say a promising story with some fresh content that requires less budget? Ahh, box office, we need box office, you say. I think with the money spent making Young Detective Dee, it can probably made a few indie films? Again, this is just a wishful thought of mine. I am no professional to judge what is the best way to spend the money and there must be a reason why Young Detective Dee was made.

Perhaps one thing that people shun Asian films (at least from what I know living in Singapore) is that there aren’t many fresh stories to draw them in. Sometimes, I’m quite sad by the fact that people rather spend their money watching a Hollywood film (that really isn’t that good but just because it has a Hollywood brand) when there is a better Asian film screening at the same cinema. They could’ve gotten much more from other films…really. Not all Hollywood films are “fresh” either. Not all Asian films will be a letdown. Perhaps, we’re losing out in exposure and cultural influence. I need not say how American culture has been exported.

But just what’s the real reasons people choose Hollywood over Asian films? If you have some insights, please feel free to share!

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6 thoughts on “Review: Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon 狄仁傑之神都龍王 (2013)

  1. I really enjoyed the film. I had seen the previous Tsui Hark Detective Dee film (the one this was a “prequel” to) so maybe my expectations weren’t too high. I thought Mark Chao carried his role right from the beginning and was really likable. Agreed that some of the fantasy martial arts sequences were very inventive!

    1. Yes, my expectations weren’t too high either because of the earlier film with Andy Lau. It’s quite an entertaining film, I think better than the first =)

      1. Agreed. It followed the same formula but seemed more assured and the fantasy martial arts sequences were even more exhilarating.
        Loved your review.

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