Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Mad Detective

Review by David Tredler

Johnnie To and his long-time collaborator Wai Ka Fai had not co-directed a film together since Running on Karma in 2003. Leaving the romantic comedies that are their usual collaborations, Mad Detective finds them exploring the genre of the police drama.

A gifted profiler with unorthodox methods, detective Bun has been dismissed by the police after his grip on reality clearly became unreliable. But one of his protégés, a young detective named Ho, comes back to his mentor to ask his help on a case that links a policeman’s missing gun to a strange series of murders and robberies.

Johnnie To, the most prolific and interesting Hong Kong director since John Woo and Tsui Hark tragically lost their way in Hollywood, has harbored his career with two facets: masterful dramas involving cops and triads (generally directed on his own), and light romantic comedies occasionally blended with fantasy, often co-directed by his long-time partner in production and writing, Wai Ka Fai.

Mad Detective, like Fulltime Killer or Too Many Ways to be Number One (probably their best film together) leans towards the cop drama, but with an interesting fantastic element: the odd detective, on the edge of madness, sees inside people, to one’s  true personality. Often assimilated to a certain graceful direction, To, in Mad Detective, minimizes his visual virtuosity to concentrate on the psychological challenge of a fascinating and unpredictable character (portrayed by the much too rare Lau Ching Wan) who promptly dynamites the codes of the cop investigation. An exploration of our inner angels and demons, this film mixes dark humor and strange melancholy in a haunting and destabilizing labyrinth. Amateurs of eccentric Asian genre films will take delight in watching this unusual mystery.

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Comments (1):

  • Rasgriz @ 07/31/2008 ( 5:51:22 AM )
    Mad detective is great movie but it wont be shown in my country :(
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