The Missing Gun (2002)

Directed by
Superlative cinema
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-01-14

Everybody loves a story about a cop searching for his lost weapon, and this one is visually dazzling and darkly funny, with a powerful performance from Jiang Wen.

The Missing Gun is superlative cinema - in 89 minutes it conjures up a world with remarkable economy and draws you in to the lives of Ma Shan, his family and the village.

The setting is bucolic and timeless, but the film's style is very contemporary - including an eclectic soundtrack. It works as a time capsule of a point where China was starting to come out of a long period of isolation, uncertain of its place in the world.

Jiang Wen captures this uncertainty well, with the missing gun as a totem of his identity and purpose, his search all the more urgent for their loss. In it he finds confusion and temptation, but also an anchor of personal integrity.

Much of this seems to have gone right over the head of Western critics, at least that's the only reason I can imagine for the 1 and 2 star reviews the film has... though even if you don't perceive the narrative layers it baffles me that somebody would be left cold by the film's presentation.


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Art Director
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