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Tang Ren Jie Tan An

Detective Chinatown

China 2015
produced by
Chen Yedda Zhixi, Felix Liu, Wang Haipeng, Jerry Ye, Zhao Fang (executive) for Wanda Pictures, Shine Asia
directed by Chen Sicheng
starring Wang Baoqiang , Liu Haoran, Tong Liya, Chen He, Xiao Yang, Xiao Shenyang, Pan Yueming, Marc Ma, Zhang Zifeng, Zhao Yingjun, Sang Ping, Dong Chengpeng, Zhang Guoqiang, Ye Qing, King Shih-Chieh, Chen Yedda, Pan Binlong, Zhang Dada, Dai Mo
written by Chen Sicheng, music by Nathan Wang

Detective Chinatown

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

To buy, click on link(s) below and help keep this site afloat

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After failing his entry exam to the police academy in China, Qin (Liu Haoran), wannabe detective with an analytical mind, is set to Bangkok, Thailand, to learn from his uncle/cousin Tang (Want Baoqiang), a small fry private detective with little talent for actual detective work, but he's usually good at winging it. And before you know it, Tang is suspected to not only have stolen 100 kilogram in gold but also to have killed Sompat, the man who was to keep the gold for its owner Mr. Yan (King Shih-Chieh). Now as he's quite so good at winging it, Tang manages to escape arrest and always staying ahead on the cops on his case, but what's not so good is that staying out of jail means he has not only them but also Mr. Yan's men and Sompat's accomplices on his trail, all of whom think he has the money - which he doesn't. And while Tang does his utmost to stay out of trouble, Qin does some investigating and soon finds out that the murder and the theft of the gold are actually not related, and that Sompat actually worked with some crooks on the latter when his murder got in the way. And that part of the story leads Qin to teenage Snow (Zhang Zifeng) who was in school with Sompat's son when he disappeared a year ago, and who Sompat seems to have had some special interest in. And eventually, Qin can prove her stepfather Lee (Pan Yueming) was Sompat's actual killer after having found out Sompat had raped her, and killing him he went out of his way to plant evidence on Tang - and almost succeeded, too ...

 

When Detective Chinatown takes itself as little more than a cinematic spectacle it works best, the action setpieces are well-executed and do show inventiveness, and the light-footedness that carries them is rather appealing. As a murder mystery - which the movie actually is - the film falls a few feet short of its target, mainly because the clues are pretty much thrown at our heroes at random, suspects seem to just pop up when the story needs them rather than being worked towards, and the whole mystery's internal logic seems to be constructed to fit the story rather than the other way round. Meanwhile, the characters - even the leads, as likeable as they might be - are rather lacking in depth, with many never above caricature status, and likewise the humour, while not exactly moronic, is hardly sophisticated. The result is hardly a great movie, but a fun ride still - and also the basis for one of China's most successful movie series of its day.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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