Synopsis by Mark Deming
China's first master detective is looking for answers to some burning questions in this blend of historical drama and mystery from acclaimed director Tsui Hark. Di Renjie (Andy Lau), nicknamed Detective Dee, is a law officer of the Tang Dynasty who is legendary for his powers of deductive reasoning. Di Renjie finds himself on the wrong side of prison bars when he dares to publicly criticize Wu Zetian (Carina Lau), who has become China's first female emperor. While Wu Zetian doesn't care for Di Renjie's opinions, she can't dispute his skills as a detective, and after eight years in jail she has him released so he can get to the bottom of a mystery. Two members of Wu Zetian's court have died under bizarre circumstances -- after stepping outside, they suddenly exploded into flames. Are the gods angry with Wu Zetian and her underlings, or is a clever saboteur at work? Di Renjie Zhi Tong Tian Di Guo (aka Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) was inspired by the exploits of the real-life Di Renjie, who is credited with pioneering modern detective techniques during the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.).
deduction [reasoning], detective, emperor, mystery [enigma], prison, spontaneous-combustion