Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 11th, 2014
BluRay released: February 11th, 2014
Approximate running time: 134 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon was co-written and directed by Hark Tsui whose other notable films as a director include We’re Going to Eat You, Peking Opera Blues and Once Upon a Time in China.
Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon is the prequel to Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Content wise Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon can be best summed up as an origins story for the Detective Dee character. Also by going the prequel route this new Detective Dee works well as a standalone film and does not require one to have seen Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame to fully enjoy it.
Being that this film is a prequel it should not come as a surprise that a different actor has been cast in the Detective Dee role. Thankfully the tone of its predecessor and nuances that were already established for this character has been carried over for this film.
Narrative wise what starts off as a monster on loose yarn quickly shifts towards an intricate tale rooted in vengeance in which end game is the destruction of the Yang Dynasty. At just over two hours there are few instances were pacing proves to be an issues, albeit a minor one. Thankfully these moments are far and few in-between.
The film’s visuals are a feast for the eyes that delivers and then some. The action set pieces are all well executed. With the film’s final climatic vertigo inspired battles taking place on the side of mountains which overlooks what appears to be a bottomless pit. If any area is lacking it would be this film’s CGI, which often calls attention to itself.
Performance trying to follow up another actor’s performance of the same character is not an easy task. And yet Mark Chao does a superb job picking up where Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) left off. Let’s be honest here they are both basically playing a Sherlock Holmes like character in the Tang Dynasty. The remaining cast members are all good in their receptive roles, especially Angelbaby (Tai Chi Zero) in the role of a seductive courtesan. Overall Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea is a farfetched adventure that ultimately proves to be highly entertaining experience despite the giant leap of faith that this film’s plot requires from its viewers.
Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors look accurate, black and contrasts levels look consistently good, details look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin. Both audio mixes sounds clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise the DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin offers a very satisfying experience that is not only appropriately robust when it needs to be, it also handles the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack with the utmost care. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include trailers Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, Special ID, Wrath of Vajra and Badges of Fury. Overall Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.