Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

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Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon
Film poster
Directed by Tsui Hark
Written by Kuo-fu Chen
Starring Mark Chao
Feng Shaofeng
Lin Gengxin
Kim Bum
Release dates
  • September 28, 2013 (2013-09-28)
Running time
133 minutes
Country China[1]
Language Mandarin
Box office US$98,400,000[2]

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (狄仁傑之神都龍王) is a 2013 Chinese[1] crime-action film directed by Tsui Hark. It is a prequel to Hark's 2010 film Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, which starred Andy Lau. Taiwanese-Canadian actor Mark Chao takes over from him as a young Detective Dee, Feng Shaofeng plays Justice Department Chief Minister Yuchi, with Angelababy, Lin Gengxin, a returning Carina Lau and South Korean actor Kim Bum making his Chinese debut[3][4][5][6][7] rounding up the ensemble cast.


In the South China Sea a Chinese fleet is attacked by a mysterious sea creature, destroying many ships and leaving the remainder severely damaged. Shortly afterwards, the young Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) arrives in the Imperial Capital Luoyang, after receiving a recommendation to join the Ministry of Justice. In an attempt to appease the sea creature, the city officials have selected the beautiful courtesan Yin Ruiji (Angelababy) to be given to the monster. Empress Wu (Carina Lau), currently serving as the regent for the current emperor, charges Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng), a member of the Ministry of Justice, to investigate the sea monster attacks, threatening execution if he does not succeed in ten days. Shortly after arriving at the temple to be cleansed before the ceremony, Yin Ruiji is attacked by a group of bandits. The attackers are intercepted by Dee, who uses his powers of deduction to anticipate the threat against Ruiji. While Dee and the kidnappers are occupied, the unconscious Ruiji is taken by "the sea monster" but is rescued by Dee before the creature is able to escape. Upon arriving at the temple and defeating the last of the attackers, Yuchi has Dee arrested and sends Yin to Swallow House to rest and to protect her. After being taken to prison, Dee catches the attention of medical assistant Shatuo (Lin Gengxin). Dee quickly deduces Shantuo's origins and background and enlists his help to feign a dangerous illness. They immediately ride to Swallow House.

Meanwhile, at Swallow House, Yin is interrupted by the sea monster while writing poetry. The monster does not attack but instead lays a jade hairpin at her feet. Yin remembers how she gave that hairpin to her lover, Yuan Zhen. Yuan, in monster form, tries to write but the writing brush breaks in his grip and he get angry and seems to leave as a group of thugs in masks swim underwater to attack the house. Dee and Shatuo arrive and work to fight off the thugs. Yuchi confronts the thugs but is poisoned by bee stings and dragged into the water. Dee and Shatuo rescue him as he passes out. Dee accuses Yin of hiding something about the attack, but is suddenly attacked by Yuan. As they fight, Yin suddenly stabs Dee with the hairpin and orders Yuan to flee. Yuan instead almost kills Dee but relents when Yin holds the hairpin to her throat and threatens to end her life. Yuan gives her a sad look and escapes.

The thugs return to their master, who kills one in anger at their failure. Later at Tranquility Teahouse, the same master is seen giving special Bird's Tongue's tea to a wealthy patron, and sadly says his master, Yuan Zhen, is still traveling and doesn't know when he will return. Dee confronts Yin again, and she tells him how she was the most famous courtesan and everyone wanted to be her First Patron. But she didn't care about their wealth and fell for Yuan Zhen, master of Tranquility Teahouse. She loved writing poetry with him, and gave him the jade hairpin as a token of her love. But six months ago, the last letter described an unknown illness, and she had heard nothing since. Dee notices the faded colors of the hairpin and Yin says it must have been tainted by something. Yin also gives Dee the fabric Yuan was trying to write on. Shantuo appears and tells them someone has been arrested for questioning.

A local mask maker is being tortured and Dee stops this, declaring that the masks were not made with local materials; also, the thugs spoke the Dondo language, a people who live between the Fuyu Kingdom and the Tang Dynasty. Fishing being their main trade, they are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for long periods of time. Dee gives Yuchi the fabric, and they read the words 'Bird's Tongue'. And Bird's Tongue is only sold at Tranquility Teahouse, given to members of high society, including the Imperial court. Dee also deduces that the thugs were not after Yin, but the creature Yuan. They immediately ride to Tranquility Teahouse.

Nobody is there when they arrive, so Dee deduces that there is a traitor in the police department who has informed the tea house workers to evacuate. Fortunately, Dee had left Shantuo a note to escape with Yin. When they meet, Shantuo tells Dee that the substance that faded the hairpin was a dye mixed with pine oil, called 'Shaxi'. Only a few shops use it and only one is close to Swallow House.

Dee, Shatuo and Yin visit Yuan, who is aggressive at first, but calms down after seeing Yin. They take Yuan to the imperial doctor Wang Pu, who has been acting psychotic to get a new hand. Wang Pu cuts open Yuan's head and stops Yuan's disease from worsening.


  • Mark Chao as Dee Renjie who comes to the capital Luoyang to be an officer of the law, Da Lisi. While reporting on duty, Detective Dee is imprisoned by Da Lisi Chief Minister, Yuchi Zhenjin, after saving the courtesan Yin Ruiji. Using his skills, Dee persuades Shatuo Zhong to releases him from prison, and together they with the help of Yin Ruiji solve the case.
  • Feng Shaofeng as Yuchi Zhenjin who is the Chief Minister at Da Lisi. Yuchi is appointed by Empress Wu to investigate the Sea Dragon Case or forfeit his life in failure. The Da Lisi Chief is skilled in martial-arts and destined to become an adversary to Dee Renjie.
  • Lin Gengxin as Shatuo Zhong who is a prison doctor and the apprentice of Imperial Doctor Wang. Shatuo uses his medical skills to assist the young detective in cracking the case.
  • Kim Bum as Yuan Zhen, a teamaker and a handsome scholar; he is poisoned by Dondo people into helping raise the Sea Dragon to ensure their plan.
  • Angelababy as Yin Ruiji, the capital’s most beautiful courtesan, saved by Dee Renjie and the lover of Yuan Zhen. Yin provides some clues behind the Sea Dragon case.
  • Carina Lau reprising her role from the first film as Empress Empress Wu Zetian, the real Emperor-figure behind the Imperial Court at the start of her reign. The Empress assigns the Da Lisi Chief Minister Yuchi and later the young Detective Dee to lead and crack the Sea Dragon case.


  1. ^ a b Brzeski, Patrick (May 22, 2013). "Cannes: Tsui Hark's 'Detective Dee' Prequel Sells Wide". The Hollywood Reporter. The first Detective Dee film, an action-heavy Sherlock Holmes-style mystery set in ancient China, earned $46.9 million in the country – then a towering sum for a non-Hollywood production. It was co-produced by China’s Huayi Brothers and Hong Kong’s Film Workshop. The prequel is produced exclusively by Huayi Brothers, as a full Chinese production. 
  2. ^ "Dexter Studios opens Beijing office". Film Business Asia. 2013-11-28. 
  3. ^ Star Daily, Korea (2012-08-17). "Actor Kim Bum to star in Tsui Hark’s movie ‘Detective Dee: The Prequel’ - Yahoo! OMG! Philippines". Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  4. ^ Hong Gil-dong (2012-08-17). "Actor Kim Bum back in Hark Tsui’s new film". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  5. ^ jnkm (2012-08-16). "Kim Bum Cast in Upcoming Hong Kong Action Thriller Film". Soompi. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  6. ^ 安蔚 (2012-08-03). "Cast list of Tsui Hark's 'Di Renjie' revealed". Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  7. ^ "Kim Bum to Make Chinese Film Debut with Director Tsui Hark - Yahoo! OMG! Philippines". 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 

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