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Blu-ray: DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (2011)

This transfer of Hark Tsui's epic fantasy is gorgeous. The MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray has colors so rich that they actually took me aback, especially in the film's elaborate vfx sequences. Because of the detailed clarity, some of the wide matte-painted backgrounds look strikingly realistic. It shows off the impressive quality of Korean vfx firm AZ Works and their partners' work. The rich golds and reds of lavish costuming pop and the detail even reveals threads. When the film descends into the underground Phantom City, the contrast of shadow is represented nicely without any noticeable crush. Grain is practically nonexistent in daylight scenes, but does creep up in lower lit sequences. Digital anomalies like banding, aliasing or pixelization were not evident to me.

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Read my review of DETECTIVE DEE

This transfer of Hark Tsui's epic fantasy is gorgeous. The MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray has colors so rich that they actually took me aback, especially in the film's elaborate vfx sequences. Because of the detailed clarity, some of the wide matte-painted backgrounds look strikingly realistic. It shows off the impressive quality of Korean vfx firm AZ Works and their partners' work. The rich golds and reds of lavish costuming pop and the detail even reveals threads. When the film descends into the underground Phantom City, the contrast of shadow is represented nicely without any noticeable crush. Grain is practically nonexistent in daylight scenes, but does creep up in lower lit sequences. Digital anomalies like banding, aliasing or pixelization were not evident to me.

The Mandarin language DTS-HD 5.1 Master soundtrack is what one would expect from a big epic action flick. Action sequences really utilize all the tracks with some great directionality. Arrow whoosh by the viewer from front to back. Explosions and even some of the strong kung fu fist falls boom on the LFE track. Dialogue sounds clear and the subtitles are easily read and keep up with the film well. The elements – dialogue, sound effects and score – are mixed dynamically. The balance makes for a robust sonic experience. The disc also has a Dolby Digital Stereo English-dubbed track for the subtitle phobic.

As for special features, the four featurettes are your pretty standard press kit stuff. "The Making of Detective Dee" highlights the impressive stats about the film, such as its Chinese record budget of 130 million Hong Kong dollars and the 10 months it took to build the giant, elaborate sets. "Weapons, Stunts and Action" chronicles Sammo Hung Kam-Bo's fight choreography and stunt work, which is certainly a highlight of the film. "Creating The Characters" looks at the key characters and also goes into the lavish costumes. "The World of Dee" focuses on the design and vfx work, which for me was the most interesting featurette because is was more detailed than the others. The disc also has a photo gallery and trailer.

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Rick DeMott
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