Mad Detective (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/07/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Intriguing, stylish thriller with a terrific central performance and a compelling plot, though it all gets rather confusing towards the end.

What's it all about?
Lau Ching Wan stars as Detective Bun, whose unorthodox policing methods finally come to a head when he slices off his own ear as a retirement present for his boss. Branded insane, he's discharged from the force, until Inspector Ho (Andy On) comes to him for help on a case involving a missing cop and a police gun that's been linked to several heists and murders.

Things are further complicated when Bun reveals that he can see people's inner personalities and that their prime suspect (Lam Ka Tung as fellow cop Chi-Wai) has no less than seven of them. Will Bun's increasingly bizarre behaviour help Ho solve the case or is he, in fact, a nutter?

The Good
Stylishly co-directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai, Mad Detective was last year's largest grossing Hong Kong film, perhaps because it's the sort of film that you immediately want to see again. The opening, in particular, is terrific, showcasing Bun's oddball detective skills (e.g. getting Ho to chuck him down some stairs in a suitcase) and introducing the inner personalities angle without letting the audience in on what's going on.

Lau Ching Wan is terrific as Bun, with his perpetual hangdog expression, his fake ear and - for most of the film - a bandage wrapped around his head, not to mention his too-short trousers. There's also strong support from On as Ho and from Kelly Lin, who gets to show several different sides as Bun's wife.

The Bad
The main problem is that the plot runs out of steam towards the end – there's no real tension involved in the solving of the case and the hidden personality angle doesn't quite have the pay-off you're hoping for. Similarly, there are so many shots of different "people" shooting at each other that the climax gets rather confusing.

Worth seeing?
Despite its flaws, Mad Detective is an enjoyable, stylish thriller that's worth seeking out.

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Mad Detective (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 01:36

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