Above: Mark Chao and Lin Gengxin star in “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon”.
After opening to an impressive first-day box office of 64 million RMB, Tsui Hark’s (徐克) period suspense film Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon <狄仁傑之神都龍王> has continued its box office dominion during the seven-day national holiday beginning on October 1. Since its premiere on September 28, Young Detective Dee has raked in almost 500 million RMB in total, smashing previous box office records.
Although mainland Chinese films have been lackluster this past year, Young Detective Dee seems to be one of the few exceptions. In two days, the film had already reached 94 million RMB, and had broken the 100-million mark by the next day. Industry insiders estimate that at this rate, it may snag a total of 800 million RMB before bowing out of theaters.
During the week-long national holiday, Young Detective Dee brought in an estimated 340 million RMB — approximately equal to the total box office for all films during last year’s holiday, which came in at around 370 million RMB. As a result, it set a new record for the highest box office during this calendar period, as well as for being the fastest to attain such a high sum.
Young Detective Dee has been praised for presenting viewers with a visual feast, almost as if the movie were transporting them back to the Tang Dynasty. The film’s artistic director, Kenneth Mak (麥國强), shared that Young Detective Dee had a total of 60 to 70 settings – the highest of any Tsui Hark film, according to martial arts choreographer Yuan Bin (元彬).
“This film has many stories that wouldn’t appear in other films,” explained Tsui. “Every story about Di Renjie is very big, and many grand settings are required in order to display them.” In order to perfect these settings, the crew began preparations in March 2012 and even hired an artisan to handcraft the floor of the imperial palace.
Kenneth felt that the settings for Young Detective Dee were an upgrade over those of its predecessor, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame <狄仁傑之通天帝國>, for which this film serves as a prequel. “The settings for Mystery of the Phantom Flame were already extremely good,” he said, “so I extended the Tang Dynasty into the water in order to show the audience that the Tang Dynasty also had a vast aquatic world.”
The film’s executive producer, Chen Kuofu (陳國富), and lead actors Mark Chao (趙又廷), William Feng (馮紹峰), and Lin Gengxin (林更新) were all extremely impressed with Tsui’s bold imagination when it came to styling the story’s characters. Feng Shaofeng, who plays a master sleuth working alongside Di Renjie, sports red hair in the film, which he says “gave me an entirely new feeling – it’s something I haven’t tried berfore.” Lin Gengxin also shared that Tsui’s eyes would light up when he saw a certain prop that could be incorporated into the movie.
“I hope that with these breathtaking models and this amazing mystery,” said Tsui, “we can display Di Renjie’s charisma and allow him to have a seat in the world’s hall of detectives.”
This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.