While I have to roll my eyes at how certain things in China get filmed in abundance around the same time (two versions of Hong Long Meng, countless Jing Yong) , I’ll give this some slack because Di Ren Jie has innumerable stories to base on, and new productions keep adding new material. Di Ren Jie was a high-level official during the Tang Dynasty, under Empress Wu Zetian, exiled at one point by her, and then recalled, a fact that the movie version takes off from. He is credited with advising during her ruthless reign, bringing the Tang dynasty order and efficiency, and has been through several later media adaptations portrayed as a crime-solver.
The film version of Di Renjie is co-produced by Hua Yi and director Tsui Hark‘s company, as one of the four big productions Hua Yi would produce, that they had announced in October, about when I first started this site. The other three were Tangshan Earthquake, The Message, and a Jack Neo film that I haven’t heard anything about thus far, and seems to have been replaced by Francis Ng’s the Tracing Shadow. Thus, it’s in very good company and the cast matches.
Not only is Andy Lau playing the famous titular character, but Carina Lau, who has not made a film in four years, has signed on to play Empress Wu Zetian. Li Bingbing plays Shangguan Jing’er who is based largely on the historical figure of Shangguan Wu’er, court writer and politician, close to Wu Zetian. The difference is that Li Bingbing’s character knows martial arts.
So far pictures have been scarce of everyone, and only Andy Lau and Li Bingbing’s pictures have been released. Andy Lau, shows a bucking of the trend of Di Renjie being portrayed as old and fat, and Li Bingbing definitely looks much fiercer than traditional portraits fo Shanguagn Wu’er. Look at that poise!
The television version is the fourth in a series, The Amazing Detective Di Ren Jie. In the first three series, the first of which aired in 2004, the detective was played by Liu Guanhua. Now he’s being played by the much younger, and much cuter Fu Dalong. Seems that everyone’s starting to buck the traditional image of Di Ren Jie. Yang Mi plays an assasin in the series. The series is lower budget and rather low-key but it’s probably trying to time itself to coincide with the movie’s release, and may get a boost from that.