Mad Detective (Sun taam, Hong Kong, 2007)

Am I shooting the right one?

Am I shooting the right one?

This has an interesting premise: it reverses the idea that cops who get too close to the psyche of criminals become disturbed by having the protagonist being mad in the first place. He can solve cases of ‘a body in a suitcase’ by being put in such a case and thrown down the stairs. So far so bizarre. He can also see others’ inner personalities so the antagonist is seen as being seven different people; resulting in a hilarious scene where our hero is beaten up by seven others.

However, the film certainly soon loses the plot and is tinged by racism – the ‘Indian’ references (South East Asians are the bottom of the racial heap in Hong Kong). It seems as if the producers couldn’t decide whether to be comedic, the laughs soon recede, or emphasise the pathos, our hero pines for the wife who’s left him; he literally sees his missing wife. The notion of divided personalities, and being haunted by ones we love, should have been really interesting. But, overall, the film throws its key merits away into incoherency. The ‘hall of mirrors’ finale, nodding to Welles’ Lady from Shanghai (1948), might have been a brilliant hommage, but by then I didn’t care.

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