THE Bullet Vanishes is part CSI, part Detective Dee and part Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. The film is Hong Kong director Lo Chi Leung’s take on a semi-supernatural, crime thriller set in post-industrial 1930s Shanghai. It stars Lau Ching-wan and action superstar, Nicholas Tse.
The film opens with a disturbing scene. A woman, accused of stealing bullets in the ammunition factory where she worked, is killed, apparently from gunshot wounds from “invisible bullets”. Several of her co-workers also die in similar fashion.
Police detectives Dong Lu (Lau) and Guo Zhui (Tse) are assigned to investigate the murders but they soon find themselves with more questions than answers.
The Bullet Vanishes is a great watch with its intriguing plot and sepia-toned cinematography. Lo (Double Tap, Koma) eases in his direction, despite several twists and turns at the 11th hour, which include some realistic shoot out scenes, cowboy-style and the expensive-looking pre-modern forensics.
Through this movie, Lo also criticises China’s capitalist society back then, as seen in Li’s portrayal of Ding, the ruthless and supposedly upper-class boss of the ammunition factory.
Lau’s character is similar to the one he played in Johnny To’s The Mad Detective and the one played by Takeshi Kaneshiro in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia.
On the other hand, Tse is in his element, doing what he is good at — action and looking cool at the same time. However, his character should have been developed more. There should be more background on him. His suspicious manner will have the audience guessing his every move.
The Bullet Vanishes keeps the audience guessing till the end as any one of the characters can be the killer. Just when you think you’ve nailed your suspect, he ends up dead and sets off a new guessing game.
Although slightly overrun, The Bullet Vanishes isn’t a frustrating watch. It moves at a steady pace and plays its card well. The movie could have dwindled in the first 15 minutes but instead, it moves with ease towards the final credit. Highly recommended.
THE BULLET VANISHES
Lo Chi Leung
Lau Ching-wan, Nicholas Tse,
Yang Mi, Li Kai Chi