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The Detective (2007) January 19, 2008

Posted by Cal in : Thriller, Supernatural, 2000s films , trackback

Director: Oxide Pang  Cast: Aaron Kwok; Liu Kai-Chi; Shing Fui-On  Territory: Hong Kong  Production Company: Sil-Metropol Organization

Tam (Aaron Kwok) is a mediocre detective in the heart of the Chinese community in Thailand.  One day, drinking buddy Lung (Shing Fui-On) turns up to his office and hands him a photograph of a beautiful woman and a wad of cash.  Lung claims the woman is following him and will kill him over a matter that “is nothing to do with me”.  Tam suspects that Lung is using him as an introduction agency and just wants to know where the beauty lives, but then people surrounding the woman start to die.  Most look like suicides, but Tam is sure they are connected and believes foul play is involved.  His friend, police officer Chak (Liu Kai-Chi) indulges Tam for a while, but eventually grows exasperated by his insistence that there’s more to the deaths than meet the eye.

Aaron Kwok

Detective is a decent gumshoe tale told in the gritty, noir-ish style that is so popular in Hong Kong these days.  Aaron Kwok is one of the few pop-stars-turned-actors I can watch, as he does tend to have some ability and doesn’t seem obsessed with looking pretty all the time.  He shares a lot of screen time with Liu Kai-Chi, who is carving a nice career as a character actor, and the two have some very tangible onscreen chemistry.  The film is also helped by the Thai locations, which give it a very different visual feel from the current crop of Hong Kong Noir thrillers.  The supporting cast is excellent throughout (Wayne Lai pops up in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him role, and Shing Fui-On is creepy as hell as Lung) and the direction is solid.  Unfortunately, the film can also be seen as one big advertisement for a certain brand of telephone/camera manufacturer, but I’ve said my piece on product placement elsewhere here and I’m determined not to repeat myself.

What?  This is a plot device, NOT product placement!

As you have probably gathered, not everything is as it seems and the mystery is fairly compelling.  It does get uncomfortably complicated than is strictly necessary at times, though, and there is a little too much padding to the story for my liking.  But you do want to get to the bottom of it all and the fact that the answers don’t come easily enhances the mystery. 

Detective is not so much a “whodunit” as a “what-did-they-do”, and is definitely worth seeing.  I have a sneaking suspicion that once you’ve been shown all the answers you won’t want to come back to it, but it’s certainly worth the price of a rental.

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