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Movie reviews: Detective Dee The Four Heavenly Kings, Siberia

SIBERIA (R21)

Anchored by Keanu Reeves, this romance thriller bears a resemblance to the gratuitously violent John Wick, yet its brand of camp is nowhere as wry or self-aware.

Here, Reeves plays American diamond merchant Lucas Hill, who finds himself in mortal danger after his business partner disappears, along with a clutch of flawless blue diamonds they owe mafia kingpin Boris (Pasha D. Lychnikoff).

 Detective Dee The Four Heavenly Kings, Siberia
SIBERIA

Frantically searching for his partner in Siberia, Hill meets the jaded Katya (Ana Ularu), who yearns for a life beyond her family's sleepy cafe. Both end up in a whirlwind secret romance amid Hill's desperate search and disintegrating marriage back home.

Under director Matthew Ross, Siberia shifts between two dissonant tones. Buoyed by witty writing and their abundant talent, Reeves and Ularu make for convincing lovers.

The cinematography and set design often form hauntingly beautiful backdrops to their doomed affair, marred only by dreadful sex scenes.

Unfortunately, the action scenes portray their mafia pursuers as comically twisted caricatures, cheapening the movie massively. - TAY HONG YI  -  2 ticks


DETECTIVE DEE THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS (PG13)

In the second prequel to the Chinese-Hong Kong action-adventure mystery Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame (2010), Mark Chao reprises his role as the younger version of the celebrated Tang Dynasty official.

Centred on the efforts of Empress Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) to wrestle power back from Detective Dee in the form of the Dragon Taming Mace previously bestowed upon him by her husband, the film also shows how the nation soon comes under attack by a mysterious darker force.

 Detective Dee The Four Heavenly Kings, Siberia
Detective Dee The Four Heavenly Kings

The film suffers from too many layers of superfluous intrigue, along with a large number of supporting characters who are given little to no development. While the action and Dee's own detective work are entertaining enough to keep it from being totally unwatchable, many decisions - including the title, which bears only a glancing relation to any part of the plot - seem half-baked at best. - NG WEI KAI - 2.5 ticks

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