Andy Lau Is Detective Dee

Tsui Hark directs martial arts thriller

Infernal Affairs star Andy Lau has signed up for a period martial arts thriller, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, set in 690 AD.

The film sees Lau play the titular Detective Dee, called back from exile by the Empress Wu (China's only female ruler ever) when a series of mysterious deaths threaten to delay her inauguration. Dee accepts the challenge, and partners with the gung-ho Commander Bei and master of disguise the Ghost Doctor.

Dee was a real Tang dynasty figure, although this is a fictitious case for him to solve, which shows that China really is an advanced nation: the UK, after all, didn't set up a police force for another 1200-odd years (unless you count Cadfael)*.

Tsui hints at a romantic interest between Dee and Empress Wu, saying, "They had such an interesting relationship of hatred, love and passion," but is still looking for the right cast members for the other roles. Filming is due to start in May for a 2010 release in Asia.

*Technically, Dee was closer to a Judge than a Detective, but close enough.