Review: BLIND DETECTIVE 盲探 (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 12 July 2013

Review: BLIND DETECTIVE 盲探 (2013)

BLIND DETECTIVE is messy in tone, overlong and sometimes annoying as well -- but this Johnnie To's madcap comedy thriller is one entertaining mess largely saved by Andy Lau's and Sammi Cheng's playful performances.

When BLIND DETECTIVE was first premiered at Cannes Film Festival earlier on May, it was greeted with mixed responses that most critics ended up complaining the movie's tone-deaf structure. Well, upon finally watching it in the cinema myself, I admit that BLIND DETECTIVE does suffer from the messy and inconsistent tone. But to my surprise, the movie turns out to be watchable after all.


Andy Lau plays Johnston, a brilliant but cranky retired detective who used to be a top cop before he went blind four years ago. Despite his blindness, he continues helping out the Hong Kong police force to solve crimes because he has a unique deductive ability that others don't possess. Enter Ho (Sammi Cheng), a rookie cop who is looking forward to learn some of Johnston's investigative skills. They first cross path while investigating a case of a man suspected of sulfuric acid attacks in Mongkok. When they finally get to know each other, Ho seeks Johnston's help to find out what happened to her secondary school friend, Minnie who has been missing for more than a decade.

Reuniting for the first time since 2004's YESTERDAY ONCE MORE, it's good to see Hong Kong's screen darlings Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng are finally back together on the big screen. Likewise, their high-spirited acting is absolutely fun to watch for. Cheng, in particular, is a real sport in a physically-demanding role that requires her to act as manic as possible. Johnnie To's hyperactive direction is busy and enjoyable enough to keep the viewers occupied with all the frenetic sequences.

The disturbing but genuinely hilarious sequence involving a morgue murder where Johnston and Ho have to reconstruct the crime scene by using a TV set, a hammer and a motorcycle helmet.

At 129 minutes, the movie does feels overlong. The messy script (written by Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ryker Chan and Yu Xi) is both bloated and uneven. At times, some of the acting (including the one with Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng) tends to go far too over-the-top to the point of nuisance. Some scenes are cringeworthy as well (especially the one involving a flirtatious grandma who falls crazily in love with Lo Hoi-Pang's character) could have been edited out altogether. Then there's the long-winded ending that finally reveals the truth about Minnie's sudden disappearance, which could have used some narrative polish.

While BLIND DETECTIVE is hardly as polished as other Johnnie To's works (that includes this year's DRUG WAR as well), it remains a wacky cinematic experience worth watching for both die-hard fans and casual viewers who are expecting a Hong Kong comedy with a difference.

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