Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013) – By Duane L. Martin

When Dee was a young man in seventh century China, he traveled a long distance on the recommendation of a government official to become a member of the Da Lisi, the Emperor’s police force in the city of Luoyang.

The Emperor’s realm is at war with an enemy from across the sea, and one night after the Empress ordered their navy to go out on a full scale attack, most of the ships in their fleet were destroyed by an enormous creature that arose from the depths.

Yuchi, Chief Minister of the Da Lisi was given ten days by the Empress to find out what happened and who was responsible, or he would forfeit his life. Initially his distrust of Dee leads to Dee being arrested when he tries to help with the investigation, which in a way was fortunate for Dee, because it was in the dungeons that he met his Dr. Watson so to speak. A young doctor named Shatuo who he tricks into helping him escape, and who subsequently becomes his best friend and assistant. Together, and eventually with the help of Yuchi, they must solve the mystery and find out who the real enemy is, while also solving a separate mystery involving the Courtesan of Luoyang and her missing lover who, as it turns out, wasn’t actually missing, but had been turned into a monster by parasites that were slipped to him by the very same people behind the sea dragon.

This film was very involved, so it’s difficult to write a proper synopsis for it without giving the whole thing away.

Now, this film had exactly one real problem. There was too much CGI used in the fight scenes. I would have rather seen genuine fights than some of the cartoonish ridiculousness that was done in this film.

Now, that said, everything else about this movie was absolutely superb, most especially the relationship between Dee and his sidekick Shatuo. They were both incredibly likeable and the dynamic between the two was entertaining and fun. Likewise, the distrustful relationship between Dee and Yuchi develops throughout the film into an actual friendship, and it does it at a gradual pace so it doesn’t seem forced or unnatural.

The make up work on Yaun Zhen, Yin Ruiji’s lover was extremely well done. They turned him into a genuine monster that was slowly losing his humanity. Now I can’t say the whole concept of dung beetle parasites turning you into a monster is all that realistic, but then again, neither is a ginormous sea dragon, so there you go. In any case, Dee and Shatuo’s efforts to rid him of the parasites and restore him to his former self led them to Shatuo’s master, who’s a noted physicial who runs a lab with several bizarre apprentices. The doctor himself has one arm that looks like it came off a monster and he’s pretty much insane. He wanted Shatuo to bring him an arm from one of the prisoners that he could use to replace his own monstrous one, and his bright idea for getting the parasites out of Zhen was to cut his head open. If I had one wish about this film, it’s that the doctor and his apprectices would have been in it more, because they were hilarious.

The sea dragon was absolutely massive and really well done. There’s a lot of really obvious CGI work in this film, and some of it was pretty unnecessary, but the sea dragon…man what a great job they did designing it and making it feel like a behemoth of destruction. It’s hard to even describe what it looks like other than that it vaguely reminded me of a mutated manta ray.

This new release from Well Go USA has a little something for everyone. It’s got humor, action, adventure, mystery, intrigue, romance, monsters and more, so do yourself a favor and add this one to your collection. You won’t regret it.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon or from any of the other usual outlets.