- Acceptable Targets: Averted. That Turkish-looking general who visited the Buddha statue early on? Has nothing to do with the plot against Wu Zetian whatsoever. Shatuo still has multiple Turkish-looking mooks, however.
- Shatuo (沙陀) is both the name of the film's villain and the name of a Turkish clan that ruled China briefly during the 10th century. Maybe the bad guy is supposed to be Turkish.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The film seems a fairly normal historical cop-drama until the magic talking deer appears. It's later revealed that the voice came from ventriloquism, which only makes slightly more sense. The upside of this is that the viewer is kept guessing as to whether the Phantom Flame effect is genuinely supernatural or not, given all the other clearly unrealistic stuff that happens.
- Narm: The first victim snapping in half when he catches on fire.
- It's really hard to take the fight between Dee and the CGI deer seriously, especially for anyone who's seen The Ring 2.
- Nightmare Fuel: The Phantom Flame sure qualifies, especially the death of Pei Donglai.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: The movie is fairly pretty, although not a world beater by any stan...what do you mean, all this was done for only US$13 million?!