|Starring||Baoqiang Wang, Liu Haoran, Tony Jaa, Masami Nagasawa|
Third time is a charm, right? Well the first two Detective Chinatown movies were wildly entertaining, so expectations were high for this one.
With Baoqiang Wang and Liu Haoran reprising their roles as the Tang and Qin, and adding a host of international cast members including Masami Nagasawa, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tony Jaa and Tadanobu Asano from the new Mortal Kombat movie, let’s check out this expected Chinese New Year blockbuster hit.
What’s this movie about?
Tang and Qin are sent to Japan to solve the latest mystery on the Crimaster detective app, the mysterious murder of a property investor by the head of a Yakuza gang.
As they, well Qin anyway, investigates the case, they come up against their old foe: Q, and learn the truth behind who this mysterious Q is.
My Thoughts on this Movie
The first two films were surprisingly entertaining. The first movie had the charm of a lower budget comedy film, set in Thailand and developed the storyline and relationship of Tang and Qin. Continuing the international theme, the second movie took us to America and now this third tale takes to Japan for their biggest and most exciting case yet.
And exciting it is. All the energy from the first two films have been ramped up to 11, and with a run time of over 130 minutes, it’s pretty much high energy all the way.
But about half way through the movie, the high energy becomes a chore to keep up with.
Three movies in, we know the type of character Tang Ren is, and Baoqiang Wang does a great job, as always, in his portrayal. But he gets a lot of screentime, and eventually his brand of comedy starts to wear thin. As does Liu Haoran’s moody and perpetually super-intelligent Qin Feng. The movie continues the trend of showing us that he is a certified genius, and matching him with the new character of Hiroshi, played by Satoshi Tsumabuki, it takes this to the extreme. I’ve enjoyed the methods he used in previous movies, the way he virtualises crime scenes and pieces together clues, but in this film, it just feels too much.
And then we get to the really odd character of Jack Jaa played by Tony Jaa. I am not sure what’s truly going on here with him, but his overacting is kind of grating, although it fits in with the movie style. His action scenes are short, basic and completely over-edited, especially the opening fight in the train where every kick, punch and throw are new edits, seemingly ruining the flow of a typical Tony Jaa fight scene. And then there is the strange decision to make him speak English throughout the whole film, while everyone else speaks their native tongues and a little interpreting device is used to help everyone understand each other.
There are definitely some positives though. The game that Q makes them play to solve the murder is fun to watch, even if completely over the top; as is finally undercovering who Q is and what role Q plays in Qin Feng’s life. As is the intro scene of the boys leaving the airport, with a highly choreographed action scene involving hundreds of extras and an uninterrupted shot, although clearly a lot of CGI, being a real highlight. The cameos are also fun, with Zifeng Zhang and Xiao Yang making reappearances in this franchise as different characters, as is another cameo by a very popular Hong Kong singer.
But for me the real scene stealer is Masami Nagasawa. I love almost everything she is in, and her presence in this film made me watch the whole film, otherwise I would have turned it off half way through when the energy, forced humour and ridiculous scenarios just became too much.
I don’t feel this movie lived up to the hype and reputation of the first two films, which were hits in their own right. Detective Chinatown 2 was a massive box office success in China when it was released in 2018, and for the first few days of this film’s release, it was number one. But a few days later, Hi Mom took over and completely destroyed it, with poor word of mouth and a user score of 5.5 out of 10. After watching it, I completely agree with the users.
This is disappointing thumbs down, unless you’re really, really looking for a very silly Chinese comedy film.
If you’ve seen it, what did you think?