In 1917, Southwestern China, one calm morning, we are introduced to a papermaker Liu Jin-xi (Donnie Yen) and his family at a picturesque village. But his quite existence soon changes irreversibly when two robbers turn up at his village. He ends up murdering them which prompts an investigation.
Xu Bai-ju (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a forensic detective with an eye for detail seems to be troubled with the precision of these murders. But village elders who are happy to see the robbers dead, reward Jin-xi regardless. Xu’s talents don’t end there as he is also passionately knowledgable about the Chinese health art of Acupuncture.
Thanks to Xu, we soon realise Jin-xi may not be as ordinary as he wants everyone to believe he is. So, the hard task of start uncovering the truth of about his past begins.
First half particularly has some narrative similarities with TV’s Sherlock. First of all, there is the comical tone then the flashbacks of the detective Xu trying to re-imagine the crime the way it could have been committed in his head. The rest of the movie is more martial art heavy but thankfully doesn’t get as cliche as it could have been.
Directed by Peter Chan, both Yen and Kaneshiro’s portrayal of their part is decent so as is the action.
The film’s English title is far form the original which perhaps emphasis the martial art nature of the film for western audiences. Nevertheless, we would recommend this fun packed detective story come martial art movie, interesting to both genre and non-genre fans.\n\nScreenings (part of EIFF):