Mad Detective (2007, Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai)

Fabulous action thriller, visually stylish with wild acting and a great, complicated script. According to Masters of Cinema it was the “year’s largest grossing film at the Hong Kong box office.” According to IMDB, it made nearly $5,000 at the U.S. box office. This is why a remake is inevitable (thanks to the producer of Rush Hour, can’t wait).

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Ho (Andy On of Black Mask 2 and New Police Story) is new on the police force, investigating the disappearance of another officer. Bun (Ching Wan Lau of Black Mask 1 and My Left Eye Sees Ghosts) is the unhinged “mad” detective, actually an ex-detective fired from the force for cutting his ear off but still an utter master of deduction through his unusual methods of instinctually empathizing with killers and victims. It’s part Training Day (crazy partner) and part Silence of the Lambs (dangerous non-cop assisting investigation), except that Bun is a good guy.

Bun visits a crime scene and imagines himself participating:
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In fact, he begins to emerge as the only good guy, as he gets deeper into the conspiracy (the disappeared cop was killed by his partner Chi Wai (Ka Tung Lam of Election 1 & 2), who is going on crime sprees with his murdered partner’s gun) and Ho reveals himself to be a useless coward. Bun claims to see people’s inner personalities (including “Fatso” and a strong violent dude, both Breaking News vets, and “the calculating woman” who makes all of Chi Wai’s decisions) – in the shot below, Chi Wai’s many personalities ride in the back seat while Ho appears as a scared little boy.

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So in the end it’s less Training Day meets Silence of the Lambs than MPD Psycho meets Herman’s Head. May (Kelly Lin of Boarding Gate) exists as two characters – she’s Bun’s tough ex-wife, an inspector on the force who warns Ho about his erratic behavior, and in Bun’s mind she’s still his loving wife, always by his side at home and at dinner parties with Ho and his worried girlfriend Gigi.

Inspector May:
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During the shootout finale in a hall of mirrors (of course there are mirrors), Ho becomes the new Chi Wai, displacing guns and covering up who shot whom to keep himself out of trouble, controlled by his brand-new commanding woman inner-personality, a terribly good, scary ending.

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Looked to me like To and his cinematographer were using whichever camera Mann shot Miami Vice with, but IMDB says it’s 35mm so I’m way off.

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