Mad Detective

Mad Detective

Promotional poster
Directed by Johnnie To
Wai Ka-Fai
Produced by Johnnie To
Wai Ka-Fai
Written by Wai Ka-Fai
Au Kin-Yee
Starring Sean Lau
Lam Ka-Tung
Andy On
Kelly Lin
Music by Xavier Jamaux
Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung
Edited by Tina Baz
Distributed by China Star Entertainment Group
IFC Films (US)
Release dates
  • 6 September 2007 (2007-09-06) (Toronto Film Festival)
  • 29 November 2007 (2007-11-29) (Hong Kong)
  • 18 July 2007 (2007-07-18) (VOD-US)
Running time
89 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office $2,160,790[1]

Mad Detective (Chinese: 神探) is a 2007 Hong Kong psychological thriller film produced and directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai. Mad Detective was first screened at the 64th Venice International Film Festival, and later premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, before being released in Hong Kong on 29 November 2007. The film's screenplay won "Best Screenplay" awards at various Asian film ceremonies.


Chan Kwai-Bun (Sean Lau) is a brilliant detective with a supernatural gift seeing a person's "inner personalities," or hidden ghosts. However, he is forced into retirement after severing his ear and presenting it to his retiring boss.

Years later, Inspector Ho Ka-On (Andy On) is investigating the case of Wong Kwok-Chu (Lee Kwok-Lun), a colleague who went missing when he and his partner, Ko Chi-Wai (Lam Ka-Tung), were in pursuit of a suspect. Wong has been AWOL for 18 months, and his gun has been used in a series of armed robberies. Ho turns to Bun, who now lives in seclusion with his imaginary wife, May Cheung (Kelly Lin).

Bun comes out of retirement and discovers that rather than being one man, Chi-Wai is a seven-spirit collective, with each perhaps representing an aspect of the seven deadly sins with the head, or brain, being a business-like woman. He also discovers that Chi-Wai had his gun stolen by an Indian, named Naresh Sherma, so he killed Wong to steal his gun.

When investigating, Bun takes Ho's gun and identification and runs off. Chi-Wai assaults Ho, in an attempt to take his stolen gun. Bun meets Ho again later on where he sees Ho's inner personality, a scared, bewildered child. Ho attempts to take in Chi-Wai by himself but, upon finding out that Chi-Wai's gun, which was taken from Wong, matched Chi-Wai's gun (Chi-Wai altered his gun's information online), he begins to trust Chi-Wai. Bun sends an SMS to Ho, telling him that after Chi-Wai gets his old gun back again by killing Naresh, he would kill Ho, but the latter does not believe him.

Chi-Wai and Ho go to a warehouse and find Naresh, with Bun in pursuit. Bun tries to warn Ho of what will happen again, but Ho, not believing Bun and believing that Bun is the enemy, calls him to reveal his position. A shootout occurs, ultimately leading to Naresh and Bun pointing their guns at Chi-Wai and Ho pointing his girlfriend's gun at Bun. Chi-Wai kills Naresh while Ho shoots Bun. Chi-Wai turns and shoots Ho, as predicted by Bun. Bun, however, begins to limp towards Chi-Wai, who shoots and fatally wounds him. Bun ultimately kills Chi-Wai.

Just as Bun dies, he sees Ho's inner personality, the scared boy, being led by a business-like woman, which looks eerily similar to the woman that led Chi-Wai. Ho then begins to endlessly arrange and rearrange everyone's guns to fabricate his own story, like Chi-Wai did.



The film was awarded a Category III rating, an 18+ restriction rating in Hong Kong. Prior to the film's release, Wai Ka-Fai discussed the film's rating, saying that the rating was based on one exceptionally violent scene in the movie and since he felt the scene was crucial to the story he and his partner, Johnnie To, refused to delete it to get a Category IIB rating.[2]

Mad Detective was screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival's Special Presentations, a showcase for daring and artistic films with high-profile stars or directors. It also premiered in at the 64th Venice International Film Festival where it was nominated for a Golden Lion Award.

Critical response

The film currently holds an 83% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 18 reviews.[3] Another review aggretator, Metacritic, gave the film a 68/100 approval rating based on 7 reviews following under the "generally favorable reviews" category.[4]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote that the film is "insanely inventive and entertaining."[5] Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote that Mad Detective "is equal parts gonzo inspiration and overwrought indecision", and nicknamed the film "'The Lunatic From Kowloon.'"[6]

Box office

Upon its release in Hong Kong, Mad Detective faced stiff competition with American films 30 Days of Night and The Heartbreak Kid. The film was released on 29 November 2007, making first place and grossing over HK$3.84 million; the film was considered a great success by its Hong Kong distributor China Star, which took it out on a midsized 30 prints.[7] Finally, it had grossed over HK$10.67 million, which is considered to be a very good result for a film that received a Category III rating in Hong Kong.[8]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Winner/Nominee Result
27th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Screenplay Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee Won
Best Actor Sean Lau Nominated
Best Directors Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai Nominated
Best Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung Nominated
Best Film Editing Tina Baz Nominated
Best Costume and Makeup Design Stanley Cheung Nominated
Best Visual Effects Raymond Man Nominated
2nd Asian Film Awards Best Screenplay Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee Won
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best Screenplay Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee Won
8th Chinese Film Media Awards[9] Best Screenplay Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee Won
64th Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai Nominated


Independent film distributor IFC Films picked up the distribution rights to Mad Detective. The studio distributed the film in theatres and through VOD on 18 July 2008, the same day as part of its First Take program.[10]

Eureka Entertainment acquired the distribution rights for the United Kingdom, opening theatrically on 18 July 2008 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London and nationwide after that, with DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions released on 20 October 2008 as part of their Masters of Cinema series.

See also


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/9/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.