Movie(s) Review-Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon and On The Job

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Both titles will be available this Tuesday from Well Go USA

Plot-Welcome to China, 665 A.D. After the imperial fleet is attacked by a monster in the sea, there is a certain fear and unrest in China. We go to the capital Luoyang and meet Yin Ruiji who is chosen to conduct things to help calm down the monster. From there we meet Yuichi Zhenjin head of the Justice Department who tries to find out what is behind the attacks. The catch is if he does not find out in 10 days he will lose his head. Around this time, Detective Dee arrives to get a position with the Da Lisi, which is part of the Justice Department. He finds out that there will be an attempt to abduct Yin Ruiji, and snatches a badge and races there when she is to get a group of people that can breathe good underwater as they go to the temple which she is at. This is the follow up film but prequel to Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, and if you liked that film you should like this one as well. Tsui Hark feels comfortable with this character and this series of films he is trying to create. This series of films was based on the historical figure of De Renjie who lived in the 7th Century and was reputedly a judge esteemed for the scrupulous fairness and logic of his judgments who eventually rose to become chancellor.I am not familiar with the Judge Dee books but watching these films makes me want to seek them out. Whereas this film is a prequel to the Phantom Flame, and deals more with Dee arriving in the capital and his journey to become a detective. The title character this time is not Andy Lau and is a virtual unknown in Mark Chao, but you get Carina Lau playing the Empress as the sole cast mate coming back to this one. There are people who say this the precursor to Sherlock Holmes, which I am not sure nor do I care, because I found this film entertaining for the simple fact that while the first film focused more on graphics and less on the actual detective aspect, this one does use the detective aspect a little more. There are some scenes in this film that seem to borrow of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes film, like the visual displays of maps, the camera zooming in and flashing back to observe clues. I will be honest in the age of Percy Jackson and Sherlock Holmes, a film like this is a welcome relief. While I felt the first film tried too hard and had an uneven balance of trying to add to a story to keep it cohesive. A film that relies too much on effects and visuals, but underutilizes its talent is a film that is unsure of itself. That is how I felt about the first Dee film, this one though made up for it. I loved that this film really found a balance to give us effects and visuals to amaze us, but gave us some solid acting and a great script. I am not sure if we will get a third film but I feel if American studios got wind of this film we would get aplenty of remake rumors. This was a really good film from start to finish will keep your attention.

8 out of 10

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Review-Erik Matti’s On the Job is something uniquely different. This seems to be inspired by both The Departed and Quentin Tarantino. This crime thriller is about two convicts who get out of jail to conduct assassinations. The opening of the film is during a street festival, we meet Tatang and the young follower Daniel who are inmates who execute a hit on a major drug dealer. The act appears to be very reckless, these are guys are supposed to be locked up in jail how can they be out of it killing? Of course an investigator named Acosta is on the case trying to find out who murdered this drug dealer. On the case also is Francis who is a National Bureau of Investigation agent called in to oversee this by his father-in-law, Congressman Manrique. The negatives right off the bat, the film is too long. I felt that while this film is very entertaining and seldom will have you looking at the time, it did feel towards the end to start to drag. Now, the beauty to a film like this is watching everything happen in front of you, and the game to see if it can be figured out and how. The script in this film was really good, and the acting was solid. This is that film you know there will be a remake or retelling in America soon. It is often original and very clever. Films like this exist to entertain an audience that is always ready for something different but yet feels familiar. This film has some of the clichés we know from thrillers and mystery films. What sets this film apart is that it is willing to inject fresh ideas into a genre that needs them. Where Infernal Affairs lit up audiences, I feel this film will as well.

8.5 out of 10