Deconstructing Detective Dee

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Director Hark Tsui.

Director Hark Tsui. [Global Times]


Tsui added that making Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame in the hope of creating a Chinese detective figure on screen that also appeals to foreign audiences may make the world see that China has its own "Holmes."

In Tsui's understanding, the historical Detective Dee was the perfect image for a man. "I have done extensive research reading historical documents and literature about Dee before shooting the film, most of which indicate that he was good looking and with a romantic heart."

Tsui laughed off rumors that his Detective Dee is a younger on-screen version of himself.

"A director more or less reflects his understanding of the world and personalities in his roles, but Dee is not my self portrait," he clarified.

"He is a man beyond his time, clear of the way history is developing while trying to influence the process. He is smart and humorous, while sticking to his principles. People feel safe around him while he is also comfortable and interesting to be with."

"Actually when I prepared for the film, I tried to differ the character from me as much as possible," Tsui added. "I intended to create a detective figure that reflects Chinese culture and values instead of mine."

Toward the end of the interview, Tsui emphasized again that despite the strong central character of the detective and the suspense and adventure elements combined in the film, Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame is essentially a wuxia film at heart and he will continue exploring this film genre.

"I never worry about running out of fresh ideas to make wuxia films," he smiled. "As long as I have enough sincerity and passion towards wuxia." Tsui revealed that his next project, currently in pre-production, is also a wuxia work.

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