[Film Review] The Bullet Vanishes (2012)

The Bullet Vanishes poster.jpg

English Title: The Bullet Vanishes
Original Title: Xiao shi de zi dan 消失的子弹
Year: 2012
Country: China, Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery
Director: Law Chi-leung 罗志良
Law Chi-Leung 罗志良
Yang Qianling 杨倩玲
Music: Teddy Robin Kwan 泰迪罗宾
Cinematography: Chen Chi-ying 陈志英
Lau Ching-wan 刘青云
Nicholas Tse 谢霆锋
Mini Yang 杨幂
Jing Boran 井柏然
Liu Kai-chi 廖启智
Jiang Yiyan 江一燕
Wu Gang 吴刚
Cheng Hei-yi 郑希怡
Wang Ziyi 王紫逸
Gao Hu 高虎
Chin Kar-lok 钱嘉乐
Li Guangbin 李广斌
Rating: 6.1/10

The Bullet Vanishes 2012.jpg

Emulating Guy Ritchie’s SHERLOCK HOLMES franchise, this Chinese detective mystery directed by Hong Kong journeyman Law Chi-leung, sets in a retro-era, the Republic of China in the 1930s, and pairs a hands-on, whip-smart inspector Song Donglu (Lau Ching-wan) with a justice-seeking police captain Guo Zhui (Nicholas Tse), aka. the fastest gun in the Tiancheng County, together they must solve a series of bewildering murder cases in a bullet factory, apparently carried out by the curse of “phantom bullets”.

Turpitude flagrantly sprawls inside the top tier of both the factory and the police department, a whey-faced Hong Kong veteran Liu Kai-chi (under heavy slap) unapologetically takes his showboating and hectoring to the hammiest level as the overbearing factory owner, whilst Chinese character actor Wu Gang countervails him with a more insidious and unobtrusive vibe as the on-the-take police chief. In due time, comeuppance will befall both, but the ace in the hole is that they are not the ultimate boss behind the whole scheme, as we assume that the hubbub reaches a somewhat tepid ending, the plot is leavened with its final twist, the Sherlock-Watson camaraderie swerves into a slipshod Sherlock-Moriarty revelation, only it strikes like an ill-devised move for its own shake value’s sake, also the gambit of Russian roulette is exploited to the point of vexation.

Female characters are ill-used here, the sex scenes between Yang Mi and Nicholas Tse is risibly gratuitous, and a protean Jiang Yiyan is pigeonholed more by her role’s mystique than any substantial import (although the flashback of a crime re-enactment in pantomime is arguably the takeaway of the whole enterprise), thankfully the two leading actors are game in making do what they are offered, Lau Ching-wan dutifully makes great play of Song’s science-abiding credence and personable persona whereas Nicolas Tse strives to ooze a modicum of sophistication through a contrived narrative arc. In the event, THE BULLET VANISHES is wheeled out with decent craft but barely passes muster as a potboiler catering to the lowest common denominator.

referential points: Chen Kuo-fu, Gao Qunshu’s THE MESSAGE (2009, 7.2/10); Hark Tsui’s DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (2010, 6.9/10), YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON (2013, 5.6/10).


One thought on “[Film Review] The Bullet Vanishes (2012)

  1. Pingback: [Film Review] Hidden Man (2018) – Cinema Omnivore

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