Throughout December, J.R. Jones and I will take turns writing about our favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

At his best, Hong Kong master Tsui Hark teaches us that good movies don’t have to make sense—provided they’re written, designed and choreographed with exceeding imagination and good cheer. How many other live-action filmmakers would depict a venerated spiritual adviser as a talking deer? And how many would then reveal said deer to be a martial arts expert? Detective Dee contained an idea of this caliber in nearly every scene—as the friend who joined me for my third viewing said, it seems unlikely that so much fun could exist in one movie.