Tsui Hark's Detective Dee movie has a ridiculously long title and a preposterous plot to match. I was suckered into watching this because it was on Time's list of the top ten movies of the year, as number 3 behind The Artist and Hugo, and I was surprised that I had never heard of it. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, but I certainly hoped it would be good, especially since it had been lauded as "Crouching Tiger meets Sherlock Holmes." The movie starts with the mysterious death of two men who are working on a gigantic Buddha for the coronation of China's first female emperor (Lau), two men who literally explode into flames when the sun hits their skin. The empress enlists the titular detective (Lau) to solve the crime, but sends her aide (Li)--a martial artist with a whip--and an official from the Royal Court (Chao)--a martial artist with an axe--to keep an eye on him.
The story includes transfiguration, fighting puppets, and talking deer. But it also includes a surprisingly affecting love story and a clever mystery. So what that some of it makes no sense, that the line work is simplistic, and that the special effects are laughable? Nothing impresses, nothing offends. It's mindless entertainment in the cinematic style of old Asian dramas. It is what it is and nothing more. Watch it if that's the kind of movie you like, but don't go in hoping to be converted to a new genre you've never tried before.
IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1123373/