Blind Detective (2013)
Running Time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Johnnie To
Starring: Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Guo Tao, Gao Yuanyuan
Blind Detective is a romantic comedy slash crime thriller that marks the anticipated return of the trio collaboration between the director To and the actors, Lau and Cheng after a 9-year hiatus. The movie follows a former detective, Johnston (Lau) who was forced to leave his job when he suddenly lost his sight after completing an investigation. He then makes a living by solving cases that the police offers rewards for. During one of his investigations, he meets a naïve yet ambitious inspector, Ho Ka Tung (Cheng). Ho Ka Tung is aware of Johnston’s record when he was a detective, and his ability to solve cases, and takes up the opportunity by asking him to help her with a personal search of an old school mate. Johnston desperate for money agrees to help and teach her the ways to be a better investigator.
As a die-hard fan of the To, Lau and Cheng collabs, I personally cannot wait to see this movie when the project was announced. I was excited to see what To had concocted for the duo on-screen after amazing movies such as Needing You(2000), Love on a Diet (2001), and Yesterday Once More (2004). Frankly, I was surprised by the film in the end, I didn’t expect as much comedy from it, and was surprised that it worked with the darker side of it. There are numerous moments that involve quite a few slapstick jokes from both Lau and Cheng’s characters, and if this movie was made with other actors to play the main parts, it wouldn’t have worked. I also loved what To did with Johnston’s character, in terms of how he solved his cases, it uses similar methods to Will Graham from the recent TV series, Hannibal, where he could vividly imagines the crime scenes, and the victims and murderers in order to deduce the answers. It was interesting that they had decided to make Johnston blind in order to up the game more, and add some comedy and challenges to the character. I think Lau did an amazing job, portraying Johnston, as a blind, foodie, desperate for money, a hopeless romantic, and a gifted detective. With Cheng opposite him to help lighten the mood of the movie as her character is more comedic, and naïve, she definitely created the balance to Johnston’s intensity. I think Cheng’s role is more challenging than expected, there were a lot of physically challenging moments, a couple of stunts, and quite a bit of emotional scenes. It’s great to see her back on the screen to portray a character that required such diversity.
The storyline on the other hand, though I agreed that it worked really well, the combination of thriller and rom-com, but there were moments where the scenes jumped from a totally light moment to a dark and eerie scene relatively fast. It takes a while to get used to. I love the fact that they took this daring path to combine such opposites into a film. It showed that there’s a ray of hope in Hong Kong’s film industry. Another great thing about this film is the darker side of the story; I really did like how they took straightforward cases and bend it around to make it entertaining to watch on screen. But there are a few things that I wished I could have known the answers as to why the murderer did what he did. The cinematography was done well for the film that blends well with the dark and bright side of the story. The costume and set design departments did well to create a whole new place for the story, and definitely added personalities to the characters on screen.
Overall, it was an entertaining film that has an amalgamation of comedy, crime, thriller and a bit of romance. This complex combination mixed pretty well throughout the film, but there were moments where you might question it, and it does take a bit of getting used to at first. It was definitely great to see the trio back together for collaboration, and this film is perfect for it. All in all, give it a try if you’re a fan of Hannibal/Sherlock and also a fan of slapstick comedy.
Rating: 7 out of 10