TIFF 2013: Blind Detective (Johnnie To, HK)

Although not a seasoned To connoisseur, Blind Detective‘s charming accessibility is hard to deny on my behalf as it breezily chronicles the exploits of its titular protagonist (Andy Lau) and his sidekick (Sammi Cheng). Honing in on Detective Johnston’s specialty in cracking long-closed cold cases, the duo interminably does so with the intention of finding a missing relative whenever binge eating isn’t an issue.

Frequently employing an almost slapstick dynamic, Blind Detective‘s unabashed entertainment value outweighs its awkward pacing in relation to the wealth of content on display throughout. Despite ironing out a distinct central objective, the film too often strays from the path via subjectively similar if distracting plot strands, including but not limited to extensive exploitation of Johnston’s skill set and the chemistry between him and Cheng’s Inspector Ho Ka-tung. Combined with breakneck pacing that aptly mimics the speed at which jokes are delivered, Blind Detective‘s CSI-related specificity becomes negligible as broad physical comedy and verbal exchanges overshadow technical flaws.

Even after taking my opening statement into careful consideration, I think it’s safe to say that most would consider this to be minor To as it forgoes consistently cohesive substance to embrace a more farcical agenda. Although agreeably engaging, the actual crime solving takes a back seat to Blind Detective‘s more obvious merits, an adherence to its efficacious and superficial tendencies remaining prominent and rarely ineffective. Further putting aside an immersion-breaking subtitle discrepancy, I think it’s safe to say that To’s latest is a modest success in comparison to a bulk of his legacy.

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