Mad Detective is a 2007 Hong Kong psychological thriller film produced and directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai. The film stars Lau Ching-Wan, Andy On, Lam Ka-Tung, Lee Kwok-Lun, Jo Kuk, Jay Lau, Lam Suet, Cheung Siu-fai, and Eddy Ko.
You might know the lead-actor for his work in the three Overheard films. (Or you may not know him at all, eh?)
I figured that this would be a nice film to review for Foreign Film Month because it shows a very unique idea. I went into this film being very interested and excited. For better or for worse…
The film follows the story of a rookie detective named Ho Ka-On that is trying to solve a murder-case. However, the complexity proves a little too much for him, and so, he seeks support in a bizarre place. He asks for assistance from a former police inspector named Bun. A officer that suffers from extreme schizophrenia.
Bun was a highly respected officer. He was credited for being able to get into the head of the criminal because of his mental-situation. However, after severing his ear and showing it to his boss. It was decided that it was time for him to hang up his boots.
The film’s premise alone was enough to spark my interest. Schizophrenia is definitely a tender subject to work with, but the amount of interesting things that can be done is limitless and undeniable. The film also received positive reviews from critics. The distribution rights for the film were eventually picked up by IFC Films to be released in the States.
With this being said, the film is weirder and allover the place than anything else.
This is an example of a film that I wanted to love, but kind-of hated. The idea alone is enough to draw my attention, but it decides to move in a completely different direction than what I expected. The movie has potentially capable leads, but they aren’t able to show much in the way of anything. You’d think a performance dealing with such a serious condition would have the chance for a tremendous performance.
Unfortunately, it feels silly. The directing, cinematography, and the acting feels like I am meant to be laughing at him. The story, however, is meant to induce a different feeling entirely. I don’t care about the dull case, and it never really establishes any sense of suspense for me as a viewer. Also, Bun, who is meant to be this helpful detective feels completely incompetent. He doesn’t ‘channel’ or find way to the mind of the killer, he merely does random things and because that’s the way it was written, he is able to make progress.
I actually feel a little saddened while I write this review. I wanted it to be a lot more than what it was. It could have been a lot more. A film following the story of an officer with schizophrenia using his mental ailment as a tool to think like the killer sounded more intriguing on-paper. It was interesting because it’d be seeing a very different type of person with different methods to a real-life situation. However, it seemed like everything else felt different too. It’s about a Mad World, not a Mad Detective.
Another problem is how confusing that it becomes by the end. It’s not confusing because it’s complexity, it’s confusing because it doesn’t make any sense. This seemed to be a reoccurring problem with a lot of other viewers as well.
In conclusion, I hope that if you decide to watch this movie that it has more entertainment-value for you than it did for me. I wasn’t impressed with the performances. I was greatly disappointed with the story. And I believe that the film could’ve definitely been better than this. Still, the premise is enough to at least keep it from being a total waste of time…