Martial Arts films have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, from Bruce Lee classics to Iko Uwais in The Raid, I do appreciate a good one when I see it. To my surprise, Lady Detective Shadow is yet another solid entry in Hong Kong Martial Arts Cinema.
Directed by Bey Logan of Crouching Tiger fame, Lady Detective Shadow is an adventure story that takes place in Ancient China. Following a Sherlock Holmes-esque female protagonist who is not afraid of anything, Sima Feiyan embarks on a dangerous mission to find a killer only to discover that the answers may have deeper repercussions than she could ever imagine.
This movie jumps right into the action without missing a beat. While it is clear that it was made for Chinese television, every minute of the action is done with apparent care and skill that makes it feel more like a quality indie film than just a television movie. I found the filming style to be interesting with some obvious use of CG coupled with an occasional bit of intentional animation to highlight certain moments. In many ways this film feels like a Chinese superhero film with Detective Shadow being an amalgam of Black Widow and Sherlock Holmes with a touch of James Bond for good measure.
Shang Rong plays protagonist Sima Feiyan with a grace that is truly impressive. Always thoughtful of her actions, throughout the film it is easy for even the viewer to underestimate her just as her enemies do. Her calm demeanor and witty banter with her Watson like sidekick, Yezi, gives her a gravitas that is not commonly seen in female characters even in American movies. Personally I would love to see her come stateside and portray Lady Deathstrike or even Silk in one of the upcoming Marvel films.
I particularly like Sima’s sidekick Ye Zi (played by ZhangPeiyu). Playing as part Watson and part man-servant, she is a breath of fresh air bringing a joyful moment every time she is on screen. She plays a great counter to the leads serious demeanor in every way.
The Bottom Line
This is a fun martial arts adventure that does a great job balancing the action and intrigue. While there were some moments that could have been improved (the obvious cg horses in the desert for one), overall it was a fun film that I would love to see again with a good dub.
If you are a kung-fu fan, just love a good adventure story or dig modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, this is certainly a film for you. It is fun, action packed and one that I would love to see a sequel to.
Late To The Game 2/23/2019
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