The young Dee Renjie (Mark Chao) arrives in the Imperial Capital, intent to become an officer of the law. Empress Wu (Carina Lau), who is at the start of her reign, has sent the fiery-haired Detective Yuchi (Feng Shaofeng) 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 (Angelababy) 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 (Lin Gengxin) and together they discover that the upper reaches of society, including the Emperor himself, are addicted to a poisonous tea produced by Yuan's (Kim Bum) 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. Dee confronts it, but is overpowered by it. Yin manages to scare it off. She reveals that the monster is actually her lover, Yuan. Yuan has been poisoned by a foreign Prince whose kingdom was overthrown by the Emperor. Dee discovers that the people who attacked the house where Yin was being taken care of are Dondoers, people who live between the Fuyu Kingdom and Tang Dynasty. During war, they are greatly affected with problems. Yin gives Dee a sheet that Yuan wrote on saying "Bird's Tongue" on it. This leads Dee and Yuchi to the tea house Yuan worked at, the only tea house that makes Bird's Tongue. When they arrive, nobody is there so Dee deduces there is a traitor in the police department who informed tea house workers to evacuate. Knowing that it is not safe for Yin hide in the police department with a traitor inside, Dee gets Yin out of the police department with Shatuo. Dee, Shatuo and Yin visit Yuan who is aggressive at first, but calms down after seeing Yin. They take Yuan to the imperial doctor Wang Pu who has been acting phsycotic to get a new hand. Wang Pu cuts open Yuan's head and stops Yuan's disease from worsening. Film summary courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Electric Shadows Contemporary Chinese Film Series is sponsored by the U-M Confucius Institute and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies