When the Pang bros unleashed Gin Gwai (The Eye) onto the world, it seemed like they'd launched themselves. All that rests now is a mediocre Hollywood career and a lot of disgruntled fans. Unrightfully so, because in their homeland the Pang bros keep on making first-class films, beating even their first outings. Oxide Pang is undoubtedly the better of the two and I'm always eagerly awaiting his solo projects. The Detective (C+ Jing Taam) is his latest effort, and again it doesn't let down.
It's a shame that The Pangs are getting such a bad reputation, because they are great talents in a rather stale industry. The problem with both brothers is that their films are often built around atmosphere, with lots of attention to the visual aspect of the film. When watching a Pang film, you can be sure to expect beautifully lit visuals and snappy editing. This puts a strain on the story of their films, urging people to complain. Sad but true.
The Pangs are known for their visually accomplished films, but it's really Oxide Pang who's responsible for this. The Detective is a visual treat from the first second till the final frame. Each shot is considered well, use of color and lighting is impeccable and some very nifty editing tricks are applied. One scene in particular stands out, where quick zooms and multiple angle changes make for quite a novel effect. Hope to see this used more in films.
One thing where both brothers often fail is their choice of music. Luckily they seem to be turning this around in their latest films. That said, the lengthy opening of The Detective did scare me a bit. I dunno what kind of local music Oxide used, but it sure made for a very wacky effect. Not in a bad way mind, but I'm glad he didn't keep it up for the remainder of the film. There's one particular scene where the mood of the film switches and from there on the sound design is strong and brooding, enhancing the atmosphere as a soundtrack should.
The basic premise of The Detective is pretty simple and oddly lacking any supernatural motive, which makes for a nice change. Aaron Kwok plays a wet behind the ears detective stumbling on a case that's hiding its true face. His connections with the police force help him with his work but when he starts running into bodies he is advised to stop meddling with the case.
From there on, the plot thickens and Kwok is thrown into a nicely tailored tale of deceit and paranoia. Aaron Kwok is confident enough to throw a nice one-man show, the supporting actors are decent but never do much besides fulfilling their role in the story. The story of the film is pretty straight-forward for a Pang film, with pieces of the puzzle slowly emerging at regular intervals. All lose ends are neatly tied together at the end, so my guess is this film should fare well with the earlier Pang adepts.
Oxide Pang succeeds again in making a visual masterpiece, although less experimental and in your face as his other films. This time around, the story is more focused and the choice of music is a whole lot better. Aaron Kwok is a good lead and the whole films flies by in no time. It's a shame that the Pang bros seem to have lost their audiences, as they keep on making interesting, if not superb films. 4.0*/5.0*
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