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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Who Killed Cock Robin – Kaiser Chuang plays detective in Taiwanese riff on Blow-Up

After a promising start, this story of a journalist who decides to investigate an unsolved hit-and-run soon goes into a tail-spin of ludicrous events and implausible coincidences

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 12:11pm

2/5 stars

Taiwanese director Cheng Wei-hao follows up his supernatural horror film The Tag-Along with the story of a disgraced journalist attempting to solve a forgotten hit-and-run case. Emulating such classic thrillers as Antonioni’s Blow-Up and Coppola’s The Conversation , Who Killed Cock Robin soon becomes entangled in a web of contrived mysteries and implausible coincidences.

On discovering that his new secondhand car was involved in a fatal hit-and-run incident that he witnessed nine years earlier, journalist Wang Yi-chi (Kaiser Chuang Kai-hsun) reopens the unsolved cold case. But when he is unceremoniously fired for disgracing a public official, Wang must go it alone, uncovering a deluge of secrets, scandals and criminal activity along the way.

Film review: The Tag-Along – Taiwanese urban legend spawns atmospheric yet banal horror

Wang is introduced as a silver-tongued charmer, coaxing information and favours from authority figures with little more than a sparkling smile. But what seems at first like a plausible character trait is soon exposed as lazy writing, as Wang uncovers evidence, informants and witnesses at every turn with little or no effort. Confessions fall abundantly into his lap, while those incriminated in his discoveries were never far away to begin with.

While the plot devolves into a ludicrous tail-spin of kidnapping, murder and luxury tea leaves, Cheng does manage to retain a grungy noirish tone, and draw some strong performances from his cast. Chuang makes for an engaging lead, while Ko Chia-yen and Tiffany Hsu Wei-ning convince respectively as damsel in distress and duplicitous femme fatale. But it’s US-born Mason Lee – son of director Ang – as a reclusive traffic cop who ultimately steals the show.

Who Killed Cock Robin opens on June 15

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