is sort of a consulting detective, whose bedside manner is about as warm and
friendly as Holmes at his chilliest.
Chong “Johnston” Si-teun has a sizeable ego and an even larger chip on
his shoulder, but he is not without empathy—for the dead. Somehow, he still might find love with a far
less deductive copper (his personal Lestrade) in Johnnie To’s genre blender, Blind Detective (trailer here), which screens on
the opening night of the 2013 edition of the San Francisco Film Society’s
annual Hong Kong Cinema series.
sudden onset of blindness forced him to retire as police detective, but he still
solves crimes for a living. He now
relies on reward bounties, particularly those still valid for cold cases.
Impressed by his results, Inspector Ho Ka-tung retains his services to find her
long missing high school friend, Minnie. She has always been good with firearms
and martial arts, but the cerebral side of detective work has always troubled
her. Promising to teach her his methods,
Johnston moves into her spacious pad, but immediately back-burners Minnie’s
case in favor of several expiring bounties.
half-annoyed Ho indulges Johnston for a while, eventually embracing his extreme
re-enactment techniques. Blind arguably reaches its zenith when
Johnston and Ho recreate a grisly murder conveniently set in a morgue,
strapping on helmets and whacking each other over the head with hammers. If you ever wanted to see the Three Stooges
remakes Silence of the Lambs, To
delivers the next closest thing. Of
course, their search for Minnie soon percolates back to the surface, when
Johnston starts to suspect she fell victim to a serial killer preying
broken-hearted young women.
like the old cliché about the weather, if you don’t like the tone of Blind Detective, just wait five minutes,
because it will change. You do not see
many films incorporating elements of romantic comedy, slapstick farce, and dark
serial killer thrillers, probably for good reason. To gives roughly equal weight to all three,
yet it all hangs together better than one might expect.
Cheng is a major reason Blind works
to the extent that it does. It is great to see her Inspector Ho act as the film’s
primary action figure and her radiant presence lights up the screen. She develops decent chemistry with Andy Lau’s
Johnston, but he looks profoundly uncomfortable in the intuitive curmudgeon’s
skin. However, To fans will be relieved to hear Lam Suet duly turns up as a
fugitive gambler hiding out in Macao.
also delivers plenty of bang for the audience’s bucks in the third act. There
are some distinctly creepy bits and a fair amount of suspense. On the other hand, a drawn out subplot
involving Johnston’s long held crush on a dance instructor chews up plenty of
time but serves little purpose except to telegraph the feelings beginning to
stir between the odd couple detectives.
to two well executed showdowns, Cheng’s winning performance, and some evocative
Hong Kong locales, Blind Detective chugs
along steadily enough for a while and picks up mucho momentum down the
stretch. Recommended for To fans and
those with a taste for comedic mysteries, Blind
Detective screens this Friday night (10/4) at the Vogue Theatre as part of the
SFFS’s 2013 Hong Kong Cinema series.
Action aficionados should also check out Chow Yun-fat’s massive return
to form in Wong Jing’s The Last Tycoon screening
Saturday (10/5) and Sunday (10/6) at the same venue.
Labels: 1980's, Andy Lau, HK Cinema at SFFS '13, Hong Kong Cinema, Johnnie To, Sammi Cheng, Serial killer movies, SFFS