Jan 6, 2014

[Movies] Blind Detective (2013)

My recent trip to Singapore has rekindled my interest in Andy Lau movies for one reason or another. I guess credit needs to go to Singapore Airlines for including two of his recent movies as part of their in-flight entertainment selection.

Blind Detective was certainly a lot more of a story than I had initially expected - and I'm not exactly a stranger when it comes to Hong Kong movie sensibilities. The comedy bits were already fun to begin with, but at its core there was a deeper story at play

I don't often have time for foreign movies since reading subtitles means that I can't multitask other activities when I watch them at home. That's a good and a bad thing given my fairly busy life since deciding to watch one of these movies requires me to fully dedicate some time to the experience.

And to be fair, this was indeed a movie that was worth sitting down for.


Synopsis: Blind Detective is a Hong Kong-Chinese romantic comedy with a good amount of crime and mystery thrown into the mix. It was directed by Johnnie To with a screenplay by Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi,  Ryker Chan, and Yu Xi.

Police inspector Ho Ka-tung (Sammi Cheng) is off on errands for the rest of the department when she's called to follow a man that is spotted on police surveillance. It turns out that the blind man that she;s following is Johnston Chong See Tun (Andy Lau), a former police detective who had to leave the service because of the loss of his eyesight. But clearly he's in pursuit of someone else and Ho's efforts eventually help the rest of the force arrest a man who has been reportedly been throwing bottles of sulfuric acid from great heights, harming dozens of people.

But Johnston is furious at what his police friend Szeto (Guo Tao) had done by having Ho follow him around. Johnston has been trying to make a living by solving police cold cases and collecting the reward money associated with the arrests. Later on, Ho approaches Johnston and asks for his help with a very personal case that has been troubling her for years. In time Johnston agrees and he also commits to help her learn to be a better detective at the same time.

Andy Lau is a great actor and he certainly does his best to properly to bring to life the character of a blind man trying to make a life for himself. And Johnston's profession as a detective is certainly a most atypical one for a blind man to try and engage in. But given how his methodology seems to center around trying to imagine himself in the situation of the victims in order to better understand the crime, things rather work. It's probably not the most scientific method of investigation, but it's one that appears to work given Johnston's somewhat stronger senses and the strength of his intuition.

Sammi Cheng makes for an interesting female lead to pair up against Andy Lau and the two certainly work well together. They start off with the classic romantic comedy dynamic in terms of them being at odds at one another due to Johnston's abrasiveness and such. And then things progress into something more as the two finally find common ground and there's some genuine chemistry to be seen between the two. Sure, there's some over-acting that's done in the name of comedy but things work out in the long run.

There were moments when the story did seem to be dragging on a bit given the many different cases that Johnston kept introducing into the story. And while in time one gets to appreciate that there are actually connections between some of the cold cases that he had been working on, this little story twist can only go so far. But hey, the fact that this is a comedy helps you suspend belief just long enough to get to the next segment of the story that's a heck of a lot more interesting.

I think the bit I liked the most was the rather well-scripted martial arts choreography, including some of the seemingly ridiculous wire work brought into play. There's little need to have the actors flying up walls and such given the tone of the story. But the way these moments were incorporated were just hilarious and I totally loved the fact that they were there to begin with.

Blind Detective is definitely one of the better Hong Kong romantic comedies that I've seen in a while and of course Andy Lau looks nicely dapper with his shorter hair. The movie rates a good 4 moments when Ho demonstrates her superior agility out of  a possible 5.


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