Blind Detective (2013)

Directed by
A glorious mess of a film
Reviewed by Simon on 2014-01-03

A young police cadet (Sammi Cheng) seeks the help of a former detective (Andy Lau) to help her solve a case from her own past. Detective Johnston (Lau) is no longer employed by the police force after turning blind four years earlier, but he still solves cases for the reward money, and agrees to teach his peculiar approach to criminology to his new employer. However, she quickly discovers that despite the big pay check she is offering his attention is not necessarily firmly focused on her case.

BLIND DETECTIVE completes a loose sort of trilogy with Running On Karma and Mad Detective, though whilst the first two revolved around an investigator who could see things that others can't, BLIND DETECTIVE - as the name strongly suggests - involves a detective who can't see things that others can, which is a bit less interesting.

BD is probably closer to RUNNING ON KARMA than it is to MD - partly because it also stars Andy Lau, but mainly because it also comes out as something of a mess - a glorious mess, to be true, but it is - ironically - far more schizophrenic than MAD DETECTIVE. The film is all over the place - it flips from dark thriller to slapstick comedy to romantic comedy to a dozen other moods and styles, sometimes in the space of the same scene, or even the same shot. Like ROK, there are some jarring edits which thrust the viewer into an entirely new plot line with no explanation, and it sometimes requires some good will to accept that events are unfolding in a coherent manner. Unlike ROK, however, there does not seem to be the same ambition or vision behind the somewhat haphazard execution - no grand ideas or philosophies being explored symbolically... when it finally comes to the crunch, BLIND DETECTIVE reveals itself to be another Andy/Sammi romcom at its dark little heart.

The performances are of a generally high standard - Andy is reasonably convincing in his blindness, Sammi is cute and quirky but able to work the heartstrings when its asked for too. Cinematography is of course excellent - it's a Milkyway Image production after all. I can't help feeling that Wai Ka-Fai and Yau Nai-Hoi ought to have pulled together a far tighter script for Johnnie To to work from though - or maybe its the editor we should be looking at with suspicious eyes. I am sure that the shifts in genre and mood were intentional, but maybe its an idea that sounded better on paper than it does in the editing room.

Still worth a watch, 'cause... Johnnie To. He is, at least, still trying to keep things interesting... if not always with unqualified success.