Detective Ji Bai and new criminal profiler Xu Xu may seem like an awkward teacher-student pair at first glance, yet they are actually the best partners in the police force, solving one ... See full summary »
In the Ming dynasty of China, Shen Lian (starring Chang Chen), a secret police of corrupt government, is trapped by the conspiracy on a mission. To prove the innocence, he seeks the truth with a girl called Bei Zhai (starring Yang Mi).
The story about an ambitious journalist who eagerly pursues a long-forgotten accident. When the sole survivor of the accident suddenly disappears, he realizes that nothing is what it seems, and the unimaginable dark truth will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Obviously as homage to the novel it is based on, the name Tang Chuan was chosen so that its pronunciation is nearly identical to the Chinese pronunciation of the Japanese family name of the original character Yukawa. See more »
"The world needs its cogs, all of them; and even a cog may say how it gets used. In fact, only a cog may determine its eventual meaning in the system."
Adapted from Keigo Higashino's "The Devotion of Suspect X," the Chinese adaptation of the novel retains most of the text's spirit, whilst streamlining and making minor modifications to certain character story lines. Most dominantly, this film makes a slight shift in emphasis to create a dynamic interplay between Tang Chuan (named Yukawa in the novel, played by actor Wang Kai) and Shi Hong (named Ishigami in the novel, played by Luyi Zhang), the one who solves vs. the one who sets the puzzle.
Two moments in the film that are particularly noteworthy, which also happen to be slight deviations from the novel:
(1) The exchange between Tang Chuan and Shi Hong when they go trekking together, Tang Chuan's empathetic response to Shi Hong's excruciating loneliness is one of the film's best moments, as the subtle undercurrents of all that is left unsaid gnaws at the viewers (and the characters).
(2) Tang Chuan's run on the bridge as he wrestles with the truth is played with perfect subtlety and pathos. Without a single word of dialogue, the pain he experiences as he struggles with the truth and with his next step perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the film, best captured by lines from the novel: "The world needs its cogs, all of them; and even a cog may say how it gets used. In fact, only a cog may determine its eventual meaning in the system."
Another dynamic pair in the film are Tang Chuan and Luo Miao (named Kusanagi in the novel, played by actor Ye Zuxin), whose rapport and amusing exchanges lend a delightful lightness to the weighty subject-matter.
The sprint towards the end is too rushed, which cramps the actors' performances. Certain emotions need to unfold in time on screen, especially when the characters realise particular truths, but there's a clockwork precision in which scenes are distilled that creates certain moments that feel out of sync with characters' emotional expressions. The film presents several problems in terms of pacing and especially in its use of extradiegetic sound--which borders on overbearing at times. A lighter touch in its use of sound, especially when disclosures are revealed, allows the story and the characters to unfold the story more gracefully. The direction and post-production could do with more subtlety, particularly given the film's genre.
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