Andy and Sammi create magic again
BLIND DETECTIVE (NC16)
THEY say that when Hong Kong stars Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng team up with director Johnnie To, magic happens.
That means a sure-fire box-office hit. Well, they aren't called the Iron Trio for nothing.
The three, who have worked together previously on films such as hit romcoms Love On A Diet (2001) and Needing You (2000), have struck gold again with this eccentric comedy-thriller.
To couldn't have picked a better golden duo to act in his film. The two veteran stars have excellent chemistry with each other, and look genuinely happy and at ease squaring off.
The movie centres on former detective Johnston Chong (played by Lau), who became blind after a police operation went wrong. He resorts to earning a living by solving cold cases for the reward money.
He meets police inspector Ho Ka Tung (Cheng) during an operation. Impressed by his deductive abilities, she hires him to search for a long-lost friend.
While on that mission, he makes use of her to help solve other cold cases.
The plot is entertaining, though not exactly revolutionary. Still, it is fun and light-hearted, and you find yourself rooting for Lau's character.
The best scenes involve the duo putting their brains together and enacting imagined scenes of crime. They do it with such enthusiasm that it's addictive.
Case in point: Cheng's character had to play the roles of jilted women who had gone missing, to find out who may have killed them. To do that, Lau's character made her undergo several arduous experiences to truly get into their psyche.
She had to be pushed down the stairs, slapped multiple times, leap off the edge of a building, and even - gasp - get a real tattoo on her shoulder. Now that's real dedication for you.
Cheng is excellent as the eager inspector infatuated with Lau's former detective. She takes all the punches with aplomb, and has perfect comedic timing.
Lau's take on the blind role is like all the other film performances he has put in - he comes across as smooth, suave, competent and ever the handsome star that he is.
But one gets the niggling sense that this blind character should have been explored more deeply. It just isn't tragic enough, or filled with enough soul to make the viewer feel for his plight.
As a blind detective who has lost everything, he comes across more as a nonchalant and flighty character than a struggling, tormented victim.
One wishes that Lau would find a role that sees him get dirty and gritty for once.
Still, after his previous movie Switch got massacred by critics - the poor guy had to apologise to fans for choosing the wrong script - this role is a life-saver.
To that, he has Cheng and To's smart directing to thank.