I managed to catch the last screening of Blind Detective on Saturday, Sept. 14 at TIFF 2013 with my mom, who hadn’t been out to see a movie in… I’m not even sure how long.
Director and Producer: Johnnie To
Starring: Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng
Production Co.: Media Asia Films Ltd., Milkyway Image
Canadian Rating: 14A
Andy Lau of Internal Affairs (remade by Martin Scorsese into The Departed) reunites with Sammi Cheng to star together in a fantastic madcap take on a typical “buddy cop” movie.
Chong, played by Andy Lau, is a blind ex-detective with an uncanny ability to solve cold cases using his vivid imagination to put himself in the crime scene as the perpetrators and victims. Ho, played by Sammi Cheng, joins him as a young and promising but hopelessly inexperienced inspector to solve a series of cases with Chong’s particular brand of method sleuthing – including a serial killer and one that cuts very close to Ho.
Johnnie To brings an amazingly hilarious, morbidly madcap and visually rich story through Blind Detective. The movie takes use of universally understood visuals and cues that it easily surpasses the language barrier between Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin) to English.
I do have a weakness for Andy Lau’s movies, especially when it involves Sammi Cheng. These two Hong Kong superstars have now worked together seven times and it shows that their screen chemistry is a force to be reckoned with, even after almost a decade.
Even though I am a little biased, I thought that it was a great movie! The summary floating around the internet is horrible because the movie explores a lot more than just a simple caper movie between a couple of cops. The characters are realistically flawed, which makes their antics a bit more fantastic since it feels like their adventures shouldn’t happen. The scenes where Chong mentally tries to figure out what happened is so visually stunning in a simple manner that you can’t help but get pulled into his imagination.
I’m more or less fluent in conversational Cantonese, but I found the subtitles to be pretty useful and mostly accurate. Aside from a couple mistranslations with slang and some timing with the dialogue, the subtitles were spot on for once.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Obviously, since it’s Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng, they end up falling in love with each other. That’s something I knew was going to happen, but it was a very awkward relationship development.
Throughout the movie, Chong didn’t show ANY sign of deep affection for Ho. The majority of the movie partially revolved around Chong’s obsession with a certain dancer who he fell in love with before he was blinded. They showed Chong as a talented blind detective, but one who has a really shallow character. For most of the movie, Chong takes advantage of Ho’s wealth and kindness and puts her in harm’s way to solve his cases. Even though Ho wants to learn from him, it doesn’t make much sense for her to fall in love with him after all the hell he puts her through.
I know it’s supposed to be a somewhat silly movie, but it seemed too convenient for Chong to fall in love with Ho just by realizing that she’s rather pretty. It’s within his character to do so, but it just seems too deux ex machina.
SPOILERS END HERE
Johnnie To doesn’t hold back on the gore when the story deems necessary, which is something I thoroughly enjoyed since the nature of the story was quite graphic and pretty psychotic. I felt that the amount of gore was just enough to balance the unnerving psychological issues that the antagonists clearly had.
Maybe it’s supposed to show how everyone has some sort of deep psychological problem that manifests in various degrees, since all of the characters we see are almost comically flawed.
No matter what, my mother and I are anxiously awaiting the DVD release so we can watch it again. I’d highly recommend you see Blind Detective, even if you don’t like TIFF-esque movies, because it’s not anything like what you might think.