All I have to say is: Nicholas Tse! I’ve loved this actor before he was an actor but a stupid rebellious 18 year old when he first entered the show business. There was no denying he made some awesome music and especially when he tapped into his rocker side. Nowadays, he rules as an action star and he’s totally still one of my long-time faves! When I saw The Bullet Vanishes in Toronto, I snatched it up right away! Finally, I got a chance to watch it on Saturday morning…I know, weird time for an action crime thriller but still..
We start the story in the city of Tian-Sheng where a young girl who works at the bullet manufacturing factory is shot because she is accused of stealing bullets under orders by their Boss Ding (Kai Chi Liu). This starts off the story as we move to the prison in another city where a prison official Song Donglu (Ching Wan Lau) who enjoys analyzing and researching cases from prisoners to prove whether they are actually innocent in the most absurd ways is transferred to Tian Sheng to help them prevent innocent cases from happening as a detective because of exactly those skills. There he meets the city’s sharpest and quickest shooter Detective Guo Zhui (Nicholas Tse) and his assistant Xiao Wu (Boran Jing). They pair up to look into a murder that occur after the young girl’s death which is rumored to be due to a curse of the vanishing bullet. A wall will have these words “When the vanishing bullet appears, everyone will die.” Following, the murder will happen and in the body, they will not be able to find any traces of the bullet. As the plot thickens, they work together with the doctor responsible of the autopsy Li Jia (Yumiko Hei-Ye Cheng) to conquer the barriers and figure out what actually happened and who is responsible.
The first thing you will notice when you start this movie is the similarities of the atmosphere and the background music to Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. As much I do like Sherlock Holmes Hollywood style, this one gives a little bit more. The style and the dialogue is witty and fun. At the same time, the chemistry between these top stars are fantastic. The story itself is very clever and the investigation of the whole vanishing bullet is full of questions which keep the audience intrigued and guessing. There are many twists and each of the characters are unique and acted out very well. The concept behind the plot is in the little side story between Song Donglu and a case he followed on the perfect crime by a woman (played by Yiyan Jiang) who killed her husband (by Kar Lok Chin) that asks the question of whether someone is a bad person if they kill, but Song Donglu says a quote that is really thought provoking (and because I know about the source material): “I believe that humans are naturally good, I keep listening to prisoners tell their stories is because I really want to know why a good person would do bad things. So, you are just a good person that has turned bad.”
Nicholas Tse has been growing as an action star and he’s been doing both gangster and cop roles. The latter being more frequent. In this thriller, he is given a decent amount of action, shooting and some stunts. Guo Zhui is a detective that doesn’t really like the law system and how the society in that era was full of corruption and favored the rich. The difference usually put poor people in bad situations and would cause them to be taken advantage of. The addition of Ching Wan Lau as his partner is nice because in what action doesn’t have, his character of Song Donglu gives the analysis and looks at the details. He inspects the area around him quietly and only shares what he feels is necessary which leaves some parts for the audience to wonder what is going on in his mind and what he’s seeing as we do get hints from little reactions that he has.
Kai Chi Liu plays the Boss Ding. This actor has been in the business a long time. Ever since I’ve been watching Hong Kong movies and TV dramas, he’s been around business which gives him a great job. Usually he plays someone that always gets dealt the bad side of the deal but righteous. However, in this role, he plays the “bad guy”. Why the quotation marks? Because back then, he was the role of the rich in the society who could make up his own rules that even the law couldn’t interfere with. His money could buy him out of many tight situations. Especially with the investigation at his factory, he comes into play quite a bit. He will make you want to punch him in his face, thats how good he is at being bad.
I’ve been watching a lot of 2012 Hong Kong movies recently and some reviews are to be posted soon. To me, the Hong Kong movies has dropped in quality but the this one and a future one I’m going to review really kicks some serious ass. Its a movie that has style and nice atmosphere, great background music to help out, an outstanding cast to play out the roles, and especially a clever storyline and on top of that, it has a really good ending, how many movies these days have that? There is an awesome mystery action flick! It had me intrigued the whole way. If you get a chance to see this, I’d say its worth your time.
I’ll leave with my favorite quote of the movie:
You ask me if there is such a thing as a perfect crime? [spoilers cut out] Wu concluded that: the perfect crime wasn’t about making the case unsolvable but finding the perfect scapegoat
I can’t help but to leak a bit of my Hong Kong love and say that I’m extremely proud of the Hong Kong film industry for making this 🙂