September 7, 2007

Venice. Mad Detective (and more on Exiled).

"Announced at the last minute as the 'surprise movie' in competition at the Venice Film Festival, Mad Detective is concise and artful," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter. "It will appeal to movie-goers who like cop stories fast and furious but also complex and witty, especially as it mostly eschews the ultraviolence of many Hong Kong crime pictures."

Mad Detective

But for Variety's Derek Elley, the film, also screening in Toronto in a few days, is "a neat idea that doesn't quite hit the bull's-eye. The first teaming of helmer Johnnie To and writer-helmer Wai Ka-fai since the 2003 Andy Lau muscle-suit drama Running on Karma, pic about a loony cop who solves crimes through intuition rather than logic is a typically high Wai concept that's still a rewrite or two away from achieving the rigor of a To movie. Despite some cherishable, out-there moments, Detective is a bumpier dramatic ride than usual from the Milkyway Image alums, signaling more cultish biz than recent To-alone pics like Exiled."

Updated through 9/14.

Well, speaking of which, reviews are still coming in. Let's pick up where we left off here.

Exiled is seeing "the widest distribution a Johnnie To film has had in the US," notes Charles Taylor in the Los Angeles Times. "Serendipitously, it's also as fine a piece of genre filmmaking as anyone has made in the last 10 years." And he and To exchange a bit of email. "To packs the moments of contemplation with as much suspense as the action sequences and is a master of ratcheting up tension through small details," adds Kevin Crust.

"A few months ago I was praising To's two 'triad election' movies, but Exiled is a leap past them, possibly the best work the prolific filmmaker has done," writes Andy Klein in the LA CityBeat. "On top of everything else, Exiled is the most beautifully shot movie so far this year. The cinematography by Cheng Siu-Keung is breathtaking; during a shootout in a sleazy doctor's office, the lighting provides the texture of a Rembrandt."

"Exiled is creative and bizarre, maybe too bizarre, but since most action films adhere to a cookie-cutter formula, its quirkiness is most welcome," writes G Allen Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Updates, 9/14: "I love, love, love Lau Ching-wan; nobody does puffy-eyed aggression like he does, and he's a spot-on choice to play the title role in Mad Detective," writes the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Cheryl Eddy. "Compared to the near-epic Exiled, though, Mad Detective, co-directed with Wai Ka-fai, feels pretty slight."

"And the hot streak continues for Johnnie To," writes Todd Brown at Twitch. "While the latest from the prolific action auteur lacks the blistering intensity of the Election films and the extreme high style of Exiled, it reunites him with a pair of favored collaborators - screenwriter and co-director Wai Ka Fai and star Lau Ching Wan - and the result is an entertaining, surprising piece of work anchored by a powerhouse performance from Lau."

"Too often Mad Detective feels like a rejected pilot from the makers of Medium or Ghost Whisperer," writes Mike White. "A fairly enjoyable bit of HK fluff, don't be surprised when the US remake is announced."


Covering the coverage: Venice 07. Index.




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Posted by dwhudson at September 7, 2007 3:41 PM