The Detective 2
Starring: Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, Liu Kai-chi, Patrick Tam Yiu-man, Gong Beibi
Director: Oxide Pang Chun
Category: IIB (Cantonese)
Oxide Pang Chun's 2007 film The Detective was a fun paranormal thriller, yet its sequel exorcises all things supernatural, relying just on human wit to resolve grisly murders. Sadly, logic is the weakest link in Hong Kong thrillers, and The Detective 2 ends up a slight disappointment despite some intriguing moments.
Aaron Kwok (right) reprises his acclaimed role as Tam, an outcast trying to make sense of his parents' murder while making ends meet as a private detective. He is enlisted by policeman buddy Fung (Liu Kai-chi) to help solve a murder mystery. Yet things are not what they seem on the surface, as Tam and Fung become entangled in a series of killings that suggests an Asian version of Norman Bates is on a murder spree.
The plot has the makings of a potential detective classic, yet the story runs out of steam by the final third of the film when the killer's identity is prematurely revealed. Also the climax of The Detective 2 is supposed to be scary, the culmination of violent, incestuous and morbid passions as the killer decides to bring down the curtain on a family tragedy once and for all. But the sequence drags on for so long that it bores rather than thrills.
Yet it is not really Pang's fault, because psychology isn't his turf. The director is not Alfred Hitchcock but a conjurer of spooky moods; atmospheric trickery is what makes his movies click. Yet in The Detective 2 even his trademark spookiness wearies and repels like a magic trick played too many times.
If The Detective 2 is worth the money, it's thanks to an exceptional performance by Kwok. The Canto-pop star has reinvented himself as an actor who has brought some of the more complex characters of local cinema, such as the macho father in After This Our Exile, to life. In The Detective 2, his character veers between the comic and tragic, and is great fun to watch.
Liu gives a quiet but solid performance. His presence anchors the movie when it is most likely to fall apart.
The ending of the film suggests another instalment is on the way. One can only hope there's supernatural intervention next time.
The Detective 2 opens today