The Fangirls’ Movie Review — Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

Karie the Maknae: Over this last year, I’ve come to trust Kmuse’s recommendations more and more. My own forays into Chinese dramas were disastrous, but after Kmuse inadvertently got me to watch Legend of Fuyao, I’ve discovered that branching out from kdramas ain’t so bad. So when she said, “Do you want to watch Young Detective Dee?”, my immediate response was to pop popcorn and press play. As per usual, I was NOT disappointed.



The young Dee Renjie arrives in the Imperial Capital, intent to become an officer of the law. Empress Wu, who is at the start of her reign, has sent the fiery-haired Detective Yuchi to investigate a sea monster that stalks the city at night. By chance, both Dee and Yuchi fight off the creature when it attacks a ceremonial procession carrying the beautiful courtesan Yin to be sacrificed at a temple to appease the Gods. Suspicious of the stranger, Yuchi has Dee imprisoned. Dee escapes with the help of visiting doctor Shatuo. Together they discover that the upper reaches of society, including the Emperor himself, are addicted to a poisonous tea produced by Yuan’s famous teahouse. Yuan, who was romantically attached to Yin, has been missing for months. Dee shadows the courtesan, who is under Yuchun’s protection until the sea monster reappears. Just as the two men are about to kill it, Yin reveals that the monster is her lover, Yuan. Yuan has been poisoned by a foreign Prince whose kingdom was overthrown by the Emperor. As the Prince’s army readies itself on a nearby island to attack the capital, a real sea dragon rises from the deep. (



Karie the Maknae: Young Detective Dee felt a lot like a Doctor Who episode. Yes, there was some campiness and silly humor, but there was an underlying seriousness to the plot that drew me in and made me root for the characters. There were layers to the mystery, deepening my interest, and great action sequences. The mystery and its resolution were very satisfying, and I had a great time watching Detective Dee sleuth circles around Yuchi.

Kmuse: I agree, for me, it was as if Doctor Who and Sherlock had a baby.  All the brains and deductive reasoning without the angst.  I thoroughly enjoyed how intelligent Detective Dee turned out to be.  I also enjoyed how the director helped the audience see what he saw and then explained it so we were not totally in the dark.


Karie the Maknae: This movie was definitely created to be 3-D. Interestingly, I found that it enhanced my watching experience even though I wasn’t participating in the 3-D aspect. There was a more careful attention to detail in the big, dramatic scenes, which enhanced the feel of being drawn in and part of the action. I liked the sweeping views of the city contrasted with the sweeping views of the ocean, and how lavishly everything was decorated.

Kmuse: It was a fun change to what we usually get in Chinese movies.  Makes me feel all nostalgic for those days when 3D was trying to become a thing.  I enjoyed how the creative 3D effects made the action seem a lot more interactive.  I wouldn’t want to watch all movies this way but for this specific instance, it was fun.


Karie the Maknae: Detective Dee was a FANTASTIC Sherlock, and Shatuo made an excellent Watson. The parallels were too strong to call them anything else–Shatuo was even a doctor of sorts! Yuchi felt like Javert from Les Mis to me–law-abiding to a fault and resistant to change. I still don’t understand why they made him a blue-eyed redhead, though. The evolution of his relationship with Dee to a grudging partnership was delightful. All of the characters were smart, and even the Empress surprised me from time to time.

Kmuse: Shatuo was just so much fun to watch.  He was all in the second he realized how smart the Detective was.  My one disappointment was that Kim Bum’s character (the “monster” of the movie) was very one dimensional compared to the detective team.


Karie the Maknae: Loved it. I would watch it again, especially for the swimming horse and Dee’s wit and banter. It definitely scratched a fantasy mystery-solving itch I didn’t even know I had!

Kmuse: This was a fun movie and I look forward to watching the next film in the series later this month.  Be on the lookout for that review in a few weeks.  In the meantime, I highly recommend this movie to anyone wanting a fluffy adventure flick.

Til our next movie adventure,

The Fangirls–Karie the Maknae & Kmuse

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

You can find Young Detective Dee Here on Viki.

2 thoughts on “The Fangirls’ Movie Review — Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon

  1. “….if Dr. Who and Sherlock had a baby…”
    You really didn’t need to say anything more to convince me- I’m going to watch this ASAP!!

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