The Bullet Vanishes 消失的子弹 (2012) – Hong Kong / China

@ Media sample screener courtesy of China Lion Entertainment

Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 22nd August 2012

Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$8,016,951

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“The Bullet Vanishes” is flawed, a mixed bag, but is filled with plenty of tense and suspenseful moments that makes the film worth taking a look at.

Director Lo Chi Leung (“Inner Senses” and “Koma“) certainly have a hand in creating tense and suspenseful moments, which is vital in low budget thrillers. However, “The Bullet Vanishes” is budgeted at US$12 million, one must wonder, why producer Derek Yee is not directing instead. Lo lacks experience in directing anything outside the genre of thrillers and in most cases those films are carried by the ever wonderful Karena Lam (“Kidnap”, “Koma” and “Inner Senses”) or the late Leslie Cheung (“Double Tap” and “Inner Senses”). That’s not to say that this film is without great actors, as the likes of newly crowned best actor Nicholas Tse, the ever versatile Lau Ching Wan, the always brilliant Liu Kai-Chi and rising Mainland actress Mini Yang, more than fill the acting dues. So what exactly went wrong? That is a question that kept me puzzled right from the moment the film finished. The film looks wonderful, credibly produced, expensive sets and contains some brilliant turns from Lau Ching Wan and Liu Kai-Chi, but somehow it feels like a mixed bag. It doesn’t help when the film ends with one twist too many. Perhaps upon viewing the film, one just cannot stop themselves referencing to “Sherlock Holmes” In essence, it is still a relatively entertaining, suspenseful and gritty detective thriller, that just didn’t quite cut it on an emotional and deeper level.

As usual, Lau Ching Wan is in his “Mad Detective” mode. Lau manages to carry the film once again and alongside the scene stealing villainous turn from Liu Kai-Chi (“The Viral Factor“) are the highlights of the film. In those confrontation scenes, the interaction between Lau and Liu are simply priceless and oozes with screen presences. While reigning best actor Nicholas Tse (“Beast Stalker” and “The Stool Pigeon“) is dependable without being stunning and lacks chemistry with Mini Yang (“Painted Skin: Resurrection“). At times, it seems as though Tse is going on auto-pilot and a far cry from his performance in “The Stool Pigeon“. Yang is pretty much underused and under-explored and in many ways the film seems to be using her current hot streak in Mainland to sell more tickets. One must question what role she really plays in the film, other than exposing some skin and getting hot with her co-star Tse. Yumiko Cheng (“Heat Team“) is Yumiko Cheng and despite having more screen time than Yang, she adds nothing to her role.

All in all, “The Bullet Vanishes” is at times suspenseful, gritty and even thrilling, but the film feels stretched and is filled with unnecessary scenes and characters that adds nothing to the overall storyline. While, Lo is probably trying to saying something noble or about the human condition, he is clearly constrained by filming for the Mainland market. Still, this is far from being a bad film, as there is really a lot to like about. In particular, it is always a joy to watch Lau Ching Wan going the distance and Liu Kai-Chi always surprises the audience with his performances. The film most certainly could’ve been done with tighter editing, but for what it is worth, “The Bullet Vanishes” remains a highly watchable detective thriller. Certainly worth a look, despite its flaws…(Neo 2012)

I rate it 7.5/10

Released by China Lion Entertainment in selected cinemas across Australia and North America from 31st August 2012

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