2024 / 86m - China
Action, Mystery
Puppet poster


June 18, 2024


In many ways, this is Dai Yilin's best film to date. It's the one where he seems to be leaving his streamer roots behind, upping the overall quality of the production. And he doesn't disappoint, only now that he is playing with the big boys, the competition is getting way tougher. And that's where the film falls just a little short.

While investigating the theft of some firearms, Ding Jian's wife is kidnapped by some bandits. He chases after her, but by the time he gets to her, it is already too late. Knowing the Third Prince was involved, Jian becomes a rebel, and together with his close friend, he decides to solve the mystery behind his wife's murder.

The costumes are superb (flashbacks of The Banquet), the cinematography is nice and the action is on point. But it lacks the grandeur and the excess of the best films in the genre, and because it's a more serious film, it's not quite as snappy and fun compared to the streamer flicks. Yilin has talent though, so just give the man more time and an even bigger budget, and he'll get there in the end.