Thursday, July 3, 2014

Film Review: The Detective (2007)

The Detective (Review)
China/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...becomes more and more interesting as the story progresses."

Partially-blind private investigator Tam (Aaron Kwok) is hired by Lung to find a young woman, Sum, he believes is trying to murder him...

The Detective follows Tam as he begins to investigate this woman. The trail is cold, though, as Sum hasn't been seen in weeks and his leads dry up quickly. So, Tam resorts to his procedural investigations, such as interviews, as well as his friend Inspector Chak for information. What starts off as a fairly simple mystery eventually spirals out of control for Tam, though. Mysterious suicides, possible murders, money, stock trading, and assaults on his life leave Tam tangled in a web of conspiracy. This engaging mystery leads to a great climax and ending -- the ending also helps the film differentiate itself.

I really liked The Detective. The mystery starts off as simple and becomes more and more interesting as the story progresses. I also really liked the investigative work. Tam's resources are limited -- there are no tracers or supercomputers -- he only has his quick thinking and a helpful imagination. So, I really enjoyed the use of interviews and tactics such as using a toothpick to track door usage. Aside from the mystery and investigation, The Detective keeps the story moving with thrilling and exciting sequences such as car and foot chases. It's not the perfect film, though. There's a subplot regarding Tam's long lost parents that was very underdeveloped, and some of the dialogue seems out there.

Lead actor Aaron Kwok is great. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kwok is pure charisma. The rest of the acting is good, too. Some people may not like it, but I actually enjoyed the dark and muddy cinematography; sure, some scenes are dark and have inconsistent lighting, but most of it contributes to its distinct style. The music was also great. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream were good, had only a few spelling and grammar errors; it's also available in High Definition, which helps the distinct style pop. Director Oxide Pang of The Pang Brothers does very well in crafting this stylish mystery; a few subplots come up shorthanded, but Pang's vision is consistent and strong.

Overall, The Detective is a great mystery-thriller. The mystery was engaging and offers a unique spin on the genre, and the thrills offer genuine excitement. Some of the dialogue was off and the parents subplot was weak, though. Definitely worth seeking for fans of the genre or Aaron Kwok.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, including grizzly images of death, and some brief nudity.

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