Blind Detective-ing with friends

Buying food from a street vendorHong KongMacau

Monday afternoon, I watched Blind Detective (盲探, 2013) with my dear friends Ruben and Seb. We watched it not cradled in the plush but possibly previously popcorn ridden seats of a cinema theatre as part of the International Chinese Film Festival, but in the more plush and comfortable sofa of the house which Seb has currently taken root in.

The movie features Andy Lau and Sammie Cheng and was directed by Johnnie To, and is basically a romanic comedy and crime thriller about a blind detective, Johnston (Chong See Tun 莊士敦), who goes around solving cold cases for bounties after having to retire from service after gaining his disability. He meets Ho (Ho Ka Tung 何家彤) in the middle of a case and she hires him to help in finding out what happened to someone from her past.

Johnston and Ho in a taxi

I first watched this movie with family since my dad purchased the DVD and I felt I owed him that much, but I didn't really pay much attention and not understanding Mandarin well (as the movie features Cantonese, Mandarin and smaller amounts of English and... another language) meant that the lack of subtitles limited my understanding of the movie as a whole — especially in the Mainland China sections of the movie.

My parents thought the movie was lousy, disjointed and there wasn't much plot to it, but I find their opinion is not always completely accurate, given they are constantly turning around or not paying attention by talking over the movie.

Johnston at one of many dinners

Watching with friends with English subtitles was a completely different experience though. Part of the movie I had missed before (because I was busy on my laptop ahem) I now noticed and understood, and the story sure had its up and down moments, but it was compelling and utterly exhilarating. Although the first time all the different cases and stories seemed completely disconnected, after watching with these two friends, they seemed to tie in well. I also appreciated my friends' sense of humour as we all roared with laughter at the characters flailing around and other crazy antics. My parents barely cracked a smile.

There have been many negative reviews of this movie, I hear(/read), but I think they take themselves too seriously. Sure, the method of crime solving is not plausible or convincing at all, but does it have to be? As entertainment, I liked it. As a depiction of reality, it wouldn't stand. Watching it with parents it seemed achingly long, watching it with friends the time sped by with crazy speed. I don't know if I would be able to find any credible studies of this - but who you watch a movie with really does have an impact on how you see it as a whole.

Johnston in a suit at a dance school

I do love the comedic side of Hong Kong cinema and some say it is the saving grace of this movie. Although the story can have dark themes, this doesn't mean it has to be completely solemn and grim — they know how to tell a serious story while still using comedy to do it to make the experience that much more engaging and enjoyable. But don't trust reviews I would say. Go experience the movie for yourself and see what you think. :) (Don't watch the Mandarin dubbed version though!)

As an added bonus and not a spoiler at all, I spotted BLEACH and Azumangadaioh posters at the start of the movie! It's always fun to spot little things like that.

Azumangadaioh in the background