Ever since I first saw Bangkok Haunted, I’ve loved the Pang Brothers. Then along came Bangkok Dangerous – one of my favourite movies of all time, and The Eye – a wonderful chiller. Since then, the Pangs haven’t had the same impact, with a string of films which were either passable or poor. The Detective is quite an unusual film – it shows that the Brothers haven’t lost their touch –but possibly tries a little too hard to be more than it needs to be. Having said that, it’s a strong film with an equally strong lead performance, and while not a horror film, features some chilling moments, and one of the greatest jump scares I’ve ever seen.
The film follows a down on his luck PI, scrounging around for a living. He is the laughing stock of the real police force who regard him as a nuisance, a conspiracy theory nut who chases loose ends convinced there is always some nefarious plot at work. Tam, the PI, stumbles upon the case of a missing woman who has been tenuously linked to a murder. Having only a photograph of the woman alongside a bunch of other people, and some wild claims, he starts his search. As the people in the photograph begin to die one by one, by accident, suicide, and a variety of grim ways, Tam finds his own life in danger but needs to solve the case.
I like the idea behind the movie, and I love Tam’s character, brought to life by Aaron Kwok’s vibrant performance. The movie is an interesting whirlwind of genres, with scares, drama, comedy, and action all on screen – car chases, fights, shootouts with elephants, explosions, dialogue and plot intrigue to keep you guessing. With all this going on the directing can feel a little muddled and chaotic, but Oxide Pang manages to hold everything together while keeping it interesting and stylish. The plot does become a little confused, and the surrounding cast aren’t as memorable as Kwok, but it is still an engaging and odd thriller which the more adventurous viewer should seek out. The film was followed by a sequel four years later, and a third in 2013 -neither of which I have seem at the time of writing. If they are as interesting as this first part then they will be well worth a watch too.
Have you seen The Detective? What is your favourite Pang Brothers movie? Let us know in the comments!