Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Detective 2 | B+侦探 [ Movie Review ] ★★ 1/2

The Pitch

In the original Oxide Pang's The Detective, Aaron Kwok's Chan Tam was a C+ Detective (a C grade detective). In this sequel, Tam gets a "promotion"after solving the case in the original movie and now he is a B+ Detective.

While the original movie wasn't as well known as Oxide Pang and Danny Pang (the Pang Brothers)'s The Eye, it was definitely better than Forest of Death and other crappy stuff that they have been churning out. There's something about C+ Detective that stood out even though the story wasn't that good (C grade at best).

The thing that stood out for the first movie would be Aaron Kwok's performance as the C grade detective and his partnership with Liu Kai Chi. The last movie also captured a distinctive dirty gritty atmosphere in Thailand that hard to replicate elsewhere.

Now that the main cast from the original film are back in Thailand for another go at The Detective story, will B+ be better than a C+?

The Plot

After solving the murder mysteries in The Detective, Tam (Aaron Kwok) gained popularity as a private detective. His pal in the police department, Chak (Liu Kai Chi) had just been promoted. But they have not gotten out of the downturn yet. Tam is still hounded by moneylender and Chak's new supervisor is a tough guy to work with.

In order to help each other, Chak enlisted Tam's help to solve a new set of mysterious serial murders.

A man was stabbed to death at his home with a confession letter from his wife but the victim was a single man. A prostitute was murdered and the murderer gave the impression that she was raped when he actually used a pipe to fake the rape. A loan shark was killed at home with his penis sliced off and stored it in a jar.  A beautiful young drug peddler was killed by a pencil and her tongue has been cut out by a kid's scissor.  There are not apparent linkage between these murders but Tam think otherwise.

Before they could get any further with the investigation, Chak was assaulted by a black van and Tam was chased down the alleyways by a biker with steel rod. Undeterred by the threats and hitting a brick wall in solving the case, Tam decided to seek help from a psychopathic criminal that he helped append recently.When he was told to get into the psychic of the killer, he finds that the killer shares an eerie connection.

The Perspective

To put it bluntly, there not much improvement from C+ to B+. The whodunit aspect of this movie runs largely on autopilot and was incoherent at times. There are hardly any sensible deduction of the murder cases. It felt like the filmmaker was making the things up as they move along. The elaborate murders mysteries did not produce an satisfying revelation or explanation. To summarize, The Detective 2 is not the type of classic murder mystery movie that you go for.

But if you are going for Aaron Kwok's quirky performance as Tam, the camaraderie he share Liu Kai Chi and the general moody atmosphere that could be found in the first part, The Detective 2 isn't that bad as a time waster. It would at least draw you in with the hope that the final revelation would be worth the wait. It wasn't but then again, there are bits and pieces in The Detective 2 that were genuinely good.

Such as the scene when Chak get knocks down by a van and he could only lie helplessly on the ground while the van hangs around with murderous intent. It managed to capture a sense of helplessness when Chak had very few options in that situation. It put the viewer in Chak's shoes,  feeling the dread and wondering how could one outsmart the assailant while being immobile.

There's also a possibility of a third movie that becomes strangely an attraction. Given that both the first and second movie are mediocre at best, there's a strange unexplainable desire to catch the third movie if they ever get to that stage. I am guessing that it would be an expansion of the subplots on Tam's parents that had been brought up in the first two movies but had not been fully explored. It could be the last major case that Tam takes in part 3 when he finally becomes A+ Detective. I would attribute to the endearing factor of Aaron Kwok's Tam and his supporting acts that make me interested in finding out what happened to his parents.

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