Opening with the infectious sound of a popular Thai song, The Detective quickly introduces us to the titular private dick Tam (Aaron Kwok), a somewhat dim-witted but persistent character who quickly becomes enveloped in a complex case involving a missing girl.
In other hands this engrossing but relatively simplistically plotted mystery story could have played in number of different ways but with Oxide Pang in the driving seat the writing is on the wall. Oxide Pang has risen to prominence as one half of the ‘Pang Brothers’, who over the past twenty years have carved out a number of visually striking but almost entirely surface level films that have led to a number of US remakes (remade by the brothers themselves) that have managed to generally rob the originals of what little they had to begin with.
With The Detective Oxide Pang has admittedly made what is perhaps his most restrained film and it is all the better for it. Whilst the private eye investigating a missing girl plot and the shadowy settings may bring to mind classic noir territory, The Big Sleep this is not. As the story slowly develops there are moments where Pang’s visual extravagances don’t actually distract too much, even very occasionally adding to moments of suspense in places, and the mystery at the film’s core at times becomes engrossing and even gripping.
Things go off the rails far too often though, in the technical construction and ultimately even in the storytelling which widely swings between convoluted nonsense and horribly overly explained plot points. Not quite the mess of the film that it could have so easily been, The Detective is nonetheless far from a good film and an entertaining turn from Kwok and vaguely engaging mystery are not enough to save it.
The UK DVD from Terracotta distribution is of adequate quality with clear sound and an reasonably good image and there is nothing apparent in the cinematography or sound design to suggest that there is anything too much that we could be missing out on in this standard definition release. The special features include an exclusive video introduction from Oxide Pang who informs us that *spoiler* there is already a ‘The Detective 2′ imminent. Also included is a video from the première of the film and a behind the scenes reel.
The Detective is available to buy or rent on DVD from the 11th of April.
Film – (1.5/5)
DVD – (2.5/5)