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Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings

Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (Mandarin: 狄仁杰之四大天王) is a 2018 Chinese action-adventure fantasy mystery film directed and produced by Tsui Hark, and the third film in his Detective Dee film series. Despite dropping the "Young Detective Dee" title, it is a sequel to 2013's Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, and as such similarly acts as a prequel to the first installment, Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings
Detective Dee, The Four Heavenly Kings.jpeg
Film poster for the United Kingdom
Directed byTsui Hark
Produced by
Written byChang Chia-lu[1]
Distributed by
  • Cine Asia (UK)[2]
  • IM Global (USA)[3]
Release date
  • July 27, 2018 (2018-07-27)[4]
Box office$262,963 (USA)[5]

Mark Chao, Feng Shaofeng, Lin Gengxin and Carina Lau reprise their roles from previous films, alongside newcomers Ethan Juan and Sandra Ma.[6] It was released on July 27, 2018 in China, as well as in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.[4][7]


Following the events of Rise of the Sea Dragon, Di Renjie was appointed to head the Department of Justice and conferred the prestigious "Dragon Taming Mace" by the emperor. Hence, he became the biggest obstacle to Empress Wu Zetian's quest for ultimate authority. Empress Wu assigns Yuchi Zhenjin to lead a group of sorcery masters to take the Mace from Detective Dee. Unknown to all, using the Wu-Dee conflict as a cover, an ancient sorcerous sect has been in the background planning to exact revenge on the Tang Empire and destroy all those who come in their way.[4]




In a March 2017 interview with South China Morning Post, Tsui stated "This third film required almost the same amount of time it took us to come up with the first. We began working on Four Heavenly Kings when we finished the script for the second film, but until this day we’re still making revisions to the screenplay. The reason [for the delay] is that I want to finally pull off what we didn’t manage to do in the first two films."[9] Hark stated that he frequently had to ask playwright Chang Chia-lu to rewrite the script.[8]

In an interview in May 2018, cast member Feng Shaofeng said that the film's story was "about the darkness of humanity. The movie features a very complex case which involves a lot of people. Dee will face his most powerful enemies."[8]


Filming started in March/April 2017, and concluded in early August.[10][11] Feng Shaofeng stated that "when I finished filming for [Rise of the Sea Dragon], I was asked if I would like to act in the third sequel. I said 'yes'. But I had to wait a very long time and was once worried I might be replaced by someone else."[8]

Executive producer Chen Kuo-fu stated that Tsui came up with "many new ideas" during productions, resulting in an increase in the cost of the film, but that Huayi Brothers' founder and CEO Wang Zhonglei approved the new budget "based on his trust in Tsui to deliver a new hit".[1]


The film was released in China on July 27 in IMAX.[4] It premiered the same day in both Australia and New Zealand, following selected advanced screenings the previous day, and in the United Kingdom.[12][7]

It premiered in Quebec on June 28 at the Fantasia International Film Festival.[13] It was released in France on August 8, 2018 in approximately 130 theaters[14]. First announced to be in high frame rate[15], the French release was made at the standard frame rate[16].


  1. ^ a b "'Detective Dee' has new mystery to solve". May 4, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Detective Dee returns to select UK screens from 27 July". Cine Asia. 4 July 2018.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Cannes: IM Global Picks Up Chinese Crowd-Pleasers 'Youth,' 'Detective Dee'". Variety. 9 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tsui Hark's Detective Dee:The Four Heavenly Kings to be Released in IMAX Theatres Across China on July 27". Variety. June 18, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  5. ^ Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings at Box Office Mojo
  6. ^ "Cast announced for 'Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings'". Far East Films. 13 February 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Tsui Hark's "Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings" in UK Cinemas from 27 July 2018, courtesy of Cine Asia". Asian Movie Pulse. July 12, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d "New Detective Dee film set to thrill mystery fans". China Daily. May 10, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  9. ^ "Hong Kong film great Tsui Hark on Stephen Chow's ego, his lifetime achievement award and Detective Dee 3". South China Morning Post. 29 March 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  10. ^ "Cast announced for 'Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings'". Far East Films. 13 February 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  11. ^ "Tsui Hark just wrapped filming DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS. Ma Sichun & Ethan Juan join the returning cast of Young Detective Dee". Asian Film Strike. August 3, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fantasia 2018 Final Wave Proves It's The Must See Fest Of The Year". Ghastly Grinning. 28 June 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Detective Dee arrive le 8 aout au cinéma et dévoile des nouvelles affiches". Ciné-Asie (in French). June 12, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  15. ^ "Detective Dee en 2D, 3D et 4Dx et en avant-première le 27 juillet 2018 en France". Ciné-Asie (in French). May 14, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  16. ^ FilmsHK, Critiques; read, ChineNews·24/07/2018·2 min (2018-07-24). "Critique : Detective Dee La Légende des Rois célestes de Tsui Hark". Cine-Asie : Votre source #1 sur l'Asie (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-11.

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