Detective Dee and Reign of Assassins debut at the Venice film festival

Two highly anticipated Chinese films held their world premiere at the 67th Venice Film Festival. “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (狄仁傑之通天帝國)” and “Reign of Assassins (劍雨)” are mega-budget period action thrillers hitting theaters later this month. The two will be released only two days apart in the mainland on the 30th and 28th respectively. Both are expected to be in a heated box office battle with “The Legend of Chen Zhen” starring Donnie Yen, which gets a head start on the 23rd.

“Detective Dee” starring Andy Lau is the only Chinese film taking part in the competition this year. Director Tsui Hark and his cast including Carina Lau and Li Bing Bing were out in full force at the Venice screening. The movie earned high praises from the French media for its fast pace and creative action sequences. Some even called it the best work from director Tsui in recent years.

Andy Lau plays the title role Dee Ren Jie (狄仁傑) who has been in exile for eight years. He was summoned by Empress Wu Zetian to investigate a series of self-immolation cases in the capital city. Dee must solve this mystery before her inauguration to the throne. The luxurious Tang Dynasty was recreated with a whopping budget of 100 million RMB.

Reign of Assassins” starring Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo Sung, Barbie Hsu and Wang Xue Qi also made its debut in Venice. Interestingly, producer John Woo has just received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement award from “Detective Dee” director Tsui Hark last week. The two have been good friends and collaborators for many years.  However, they split up after disagreeing on the sequel of the classic “A Better Tomorrow”, and have yet to work together since 1992. John Woo said he was most touched by getting the award from the hands of his friend, “It’s like an old feeling coming back, the friendship I’ve been given is far greater than a lifetime achievement award.”

In “Reign of Assassins”, Michelle Yeoh stars as skilled swordsman by the name of “Xi Yu (細雨)”. She fell in love with a monk who tried to persuade her to give up her career as a killer. She finally came to her senses after his death and eventually fell in love with a commoner. Just as she was ready to “live a normal life”, her organization does everything they can to make her complete one last task. At the same time, Xi Yu realizes her commoner husband has been acting strange as if he has something to hide.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame  trailer

Reign of Assassins trailer

Source: Mingpao, Detective Dee Facebook,, Orientaldaily, video from ChasonWong's Channel

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