Mad Detective

"Weak"

Mad Detective Review


Mad Detective? You got it. Officer Bun (Ching Wan Lau) has a reputation, not unlike director Johnny To, for beguiling acts of self-torture to prove that he means business. When Ho (Andy On), his new partner, first meets him, the detective is busy stabbing the hanging corpse of a large pig. A moment later, Ho is asked to zip Bun inside a piece of luggage and toss him down several flights of stairs. By the time Bun goes Picasso on his ear to honor the retiring Chief of Police, you're not surprised by much of anything he does.

18 months later, Ho tracks down the now-retired Bun to help him find a missing policeman that many think was shot by an Indian during a routine stakeout. The missing man, Wong, was last seen with his partner Chi Wai (an intense Lam Ka Tung), a crooked cop with a feral streak. Ho wants to ascertain Bun's most supernatural ability: The detective can see people's inner personalities, what they actually are under their well-worn aesthetics. It doesn't take much for Bun to suspect Chi Wai when he notices the police officer has seven personas, including a fat lard with a penchant for shark's fin soup and an ice-cold businesswoman.

Last year, To let it all hang out in his spaghetti western bonanza Exiled after playing it straight with the powerhouse Triad Election. Visually magnificent, Exiled was bone-bare as a story and nil in complexity, but its atmosphere was dusky and strangely playful. Action films frame their chaos, movement, and explosions in tidy packages; To romanticized the gangland theatrics by giving them space and elegance, turning set-pieces into whirling storm clouds of zipping bullets, trenchcoats caught in perpetual updraft, and bodies floating in a contorted ether.

Sadly, Mad Detective doesn't have moments that graze either Exiled's absurd beauty or Triad Election's business-end brutality. What it does attain is its own ragged visual complexity: The way To and co-director Wai Ka Fai stuff the screen with every passing flicker of psychosis is startlingly engaging. The actors are competent but Wan Lau feels like Detective House M.D., with less sarcasm and more schizo. He has the answer for everything and he's always sure of it, while the audience is still grappling at what to make of To's visual landscape. With everything out in the sunlight, it's hard to negotiate what's important to the overall arc. Mad Detective is an intriguing exercise in genre through imagery, but it's too cluttered to be engrossing or even entertaining. The things To wants to contemplate just don't look as good in the light of day.

Aka Sun taam.

Mad potty.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 29th November 2007

Distributed by: IFC First Take

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Wai Ka-Fai

Producer: , Wai Ka-Fai

Starring: Sean Lau as Inspector Chan Kwai Bun, as Inspector Ho Ka On, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung as Ko Chi Wai (as Lam Ka Tung), as May Cheung, Kwok-Lun Lee as Wong Kwok Chu (as Lee Kwok Lun), Choi-ning Lee as Gigi (as Karen Lee), Flora Chan as May Cheung - in Bun's eyes, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai as Violent Man - Ko's Inner Personality (as Cheung Siu Fai), Lam Suet as Fatso - Ko's Inner Personality (as Lam Suet), Ronald Yan as Chi-Wai's Boss, Wah Wo Wong as Restaurant Manager, Jo Kuk as Ho Ka-On's inner personality

Also starring: ,

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