The Bullet VanishesThe mystery thriller directed by Lo Chi-leung sets apart from the traditional martial arts-packed movies that Hong Kong is famed for. The Bullet Vanishes is suspenseful and cleverly crafted with surprisingly deep story developments.

 

The Bullet VanishesThe mystery thriller directed by Lo Chi-leung sets apart from the traditional martial arts-packed movies that Hong Kong is famed for. The Bullet Vanishes is suspenseful and cleverly crafted with surprisingly deep story developments.

Set in an industrial town in 1930s China, the seeming old-fashioned mystery begins when the crocked Boss Ding (Liu Kai Chi) of a bullet factory is somehow able to put a worker to death through Russian Roulette. Boss Ding claims it’s divine judgment that killed the worker yet strange and bizarre homicides start to occur at the arsenal where the protagonists come into play.

Officer Song (Lau Ching Wan) joins forces with the young and ambitious detective Guo (Nicholas Tse) to crack down the mysterious murders. Song uses his refined forensic skills to unravel the intricate proceedings one by one, ultimately leading him to a conclusion that he does not want to admit.

On some levels, shades of Sherlock Holmes do linger throughout the film such as the industrial look and the humorous detective-action sequences. But there are something unique under the crafty hands of producer Derek Yee and director Lo.

The film is decently paced with interlocking plots that do not feel forced. The sophisticated set design, impressive architecture, and strong visual contrast accompany by the dark yet suspenseful tunes are all incredible artistic choices that the team brings to depict the lavishness of the industrializing town. From the fancy red light district to the church-like police station, the flavors reinforce the entire artsy style.

Award-winning actors Lau and Tse both deliver a smooth performance in their first on-screen collaboration. Lau’s calmness creates a nice contrast to Tse’s passion. Additional points are also given to Tse’s mature act with his exceptional controls of voice and emotion.

Despite the mystery and intriguing revelation, there are some brief action scenes that come from nowhere and could be taken out such as the obligatory romance scene that feels strangely commercialized and unnecessary. There could be other ways than showing skins to convey their close-knitted relationship.

Nonetheless, a great storyline makes a memorable picture. In The Bullet Vanishes, an underlying rich philosophical theme subtly explores the meaning of violence when it is attached with a so-called justifying purpose. Money, greed, power, selfishness… are all human pitfalls. There might not be a clear cut between evil and justice just as the film suggests “there is no perfect crime, only good men turn bad.”

The Bullet Vanishes comes off as a completely polished picture, featuring a fabulous set and location design and concluding with an intelligent end. If you think you really know who the wirepuller is, think twice. Opening in Seattle on Aug. 31 at AMC Pacific Place 11.




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