In 689 A.D., Wu Zetian was the first known female empress in the world. She wanted to built a 66 m high statue of Buddha to celebrate it. Shatuo was the responsible supervisor. But strange incidents happen as various assistants of the government start dying from a mysterious cause. They burnt alive as something affect their body towards the sun and make it explode into ashes. Wu frees detective Dee who was imprisoned for 8 years, accused as a traitor and orders him to investigate the case. Minister Pei doesn't agree with his methods and tries to interfere into the story. Wu also put her loyal assistant Shangguan to look after Dee so the last one will have a difficult mission in order to protect the empress and find out who is behind the killings. Prince Li Xiao wants Dee on his side to overturn the empress and all this situation confuse the mighty inspector. Tsui Hark directs a bold film with a solid story full of mystery and dynamic choreography even if the plot is more dramatic than active.