say lawyers who represent themselves have fools for clients. Evidently, the same holds true for private
detectives. This is especially true of Chan
Tam, the so-called “C+ Detective,” who has never inspired much confidence with
his sleuthing skills. He will enlist a
local gumshoe in Malaysia for a highly personal case in Oxide Pang’s The Conspirators (a.k.a. The Detective 3, trailer here), which screens
during the San Francisco Film Society’s annual Hong Kong Cinema film series.
the dubious hero of Pang’s Detective franchise,
Tam has considerable history as a character, but the only backstory viewers
need to know Pang establishes in about five seconds. The C+ Detective’s parents were murdered by
the drug cartel they may have once worked for in some capacity, so Tam has come
for revenge. Since Thailand is his base
of operations, he has retained the services of Zheng Fong-hei, a skilled but
asthmatic martial artist, who is considerably better at his job than Zheng.
soon as Zheng starts helping Tam track down persons of interest, dead bodies
start popping up. It is dangerous to be an old friend of the family like the mysterious
Chai. Before long, both detectives are
marked for murder. However, the soon-to-be
late Chai’s daughter might know where to find the MacGuffin Tam lost before he
even knew he had it.
is not Johnnie To, but he can still stage an effective action scene,
capitalizing on one-time Royal Hong Kong police officer Nick Cheung’s chops. In fact, Conspirators
has a murky, morally ambiguous atmosphere that is quite evocative of 1970’s
genre films. It is also rather
entertaining to see watch Cheung’s Zheng and Kwok’s Tam engage in a battle of
hardnosed seething. Cheung takes the honors,
but Kwok hangs with him, revisiting what has become his signature character of
the last decade or so. Shaw Brother
alumnus Chen Kuan Tai and Bullet Vanishes
standout Jiang Yiyan also add further noir heft to the supporting ensemble.
The crime story mechanics of Pang’s screenplay,
co-written with his brother Thomas and Ng Mang-cheung, are all rather workaday,
but the execution on screen is quite strong. Old pros Cheung and Kwok deliver
the goods as the action co-leads, while Pang drenches everything with
pseudo-John Woo visual style. The
results are highly entertaining.
Recommended for fans of dark revenge thrillers, The Conspirators screens this coming Sunday (10/6) as part of the
SFFS’s eagerly awaited Hong Kong Cinema series.
Labels: Aaron Kwok, HK Cinema at SFFS '13, Jiang Yiyan, Nick Cheung, Oxide Pang, SFFS