A press conference was held last week for Tsui Hark’s upcoming period thriller DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (aka D-PROJECT). (Sounds like an unused HARRY POTTER title doesn’t it?) Tsui was on hand with action director Sammo Hung and stars Andy Lau, Carina Lau and Li Bing-bing to discuss their roles in making the film. A video sneak peek was also unveiled and can be found online at Chinese-language site Baidu.

(from left) Sammo Hung, Li Bing-bing, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, and Tsui Hark.

(from left) Sammo Hung, Li Bing-bing, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, and Tsui Hark.

Andy Lau portrays “Di Ren Jie,” a magistrate in the Tang Dynasty court, who is tasked by Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) to investigate a series of enigmatic deaths of court officials.

Andy Lau and Tsui both described the main character, painting him as a nerdy and well-mannered forensic psychologist, very different in mentality and philosophy from Western heroes like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond.

THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM starlet Li Bing-bing plays “Shangguang Wan-er,” the Empress’ attendant and confidant who is skilled in martial arts. When speaking about her role she mentioned that she will wield a whip, sword and other unique weapons. Li also mentioned that it was her dream to shoot action scenes and that in the future she hopes to be an action star.

Sammo Hung discussed his role as the film’s action director and his willingness to take orders from Tsui Hark despite having the experience of being a veteran feature film director himself. He also spoke positively about the action performance of the leading stars, suggesting they both pushed themselves to perfect, yet that Andy Lau had the experience to reserve his energy while shooting action scenes whereas Li would sometimes overextend herself.

DETECTIVE DEE marks Tsui Hark’s return to the action genre after directing the poorly received fantasy thriller MISSING (2008). He previously helmed the wuxia film SEVEN SWORDS (2005), featuring action direction by legendary kung fu filmmaker Lau Kar-leung.. Schooled in American filmmaking, Tsui is best known for directing and producing a series of hit action movies in Hong Kong throughout the 1980s and early ’90s ranging from the effects-filled fantasy actioner ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN to the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series. In recent years, his films have garnered more criticism for failing to live up to past standards.


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