Mad Detective - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mad Detective Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2011
An original and intriguing Hong Kong made thriller about a detective who claims to have the supernatural ability to see the inner personalities of people, something he puts to good use in his line of work. It's an interesting idea but I think it deserved a better story to play out the use of its gimmick. It kept my attention though and I was never really sure if the characters' "gift" was real or just in his imagination until all is revealed after the climactic Mexican stand-off. It's a good film but could have been better.
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2008
edge of your seat thriller with an insane and/or psychic lead character keeps u guessing about what's real/not real. stylish and a lot of fun with ending straight out of lady from shanghai!
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2008
Very original character for a police story. Enjoyed, even if I did get extremely confused in places!
Super Reviewer
½ February 7, 2008
Good direction from To, solid performances from everyone (Andy On is just tolerable, nothing more) but the script doesn't help to make this something better. To works a lot better by himself.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2007
There is always something that peaks my interest when it comes to a film directed by Johnnie To. Mad Detective, while definitely original and interesting, is just a little short of becoming another Johnnie To great.The story is rather interesting, but it is just a bit much to grasp unless you really dig down deep and pay attention. Yet, there is just something about this film that keeps you watching until the end. It may be the story itself or just the craziness of the lead character Bun. The fact that Bun can see "inner personalities" of others just adds a whole new dynamic to the characters in the movie, which proves to be highly successful. Just seeing different actors playing the same character in certain situations is so darn entertaining. The actor swaps is also done in a serious way and not in an over-the-top comedic way.Other then the weirdness of Bun, the rest of the film is a short slow drama. There are a few scenes that seem to have no meaning what-so-ever and there is little to no action until the very end when you get a typical Johnnie To standoff. It is sort of reminiscent of the mirror scene in Face OffThe acting is pretty good. Ching Wan Lau is great as Bun and Kelly Lin puts on a good performance as his ex-wife. The 7 inner personalities of Ka Tung Lam's character is a blast to watch too.Johnnie To's cinematography and directing skills really save this film from being a complete bore. It offsets the slow pace and the somewhat disappointing storytelling. This is a decent 90 minute watch if you have the time. You just may end up going mad like the Mad Detective.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2012
I give a lot praised to director Johnnie To as he personally a favorite of mine for his style, direction, and creative story telling. While I?m familiar with his work in the action genre, he proves once again he can tackle other genre with the same level of greatness.

Mad Detective is about rookie cop teams up with a former detective with a supernatural gift to hunt down a serial killer. During the viewing of Mad Detective its protagonist, Inspector Chan, was more interesting than I expected. He`s an unusual detective and unlike anyone I've seen before. He has some unusual methods to solving cases as he has a gift for seeing a person inner personality. This is effectively use throughout the since we see what this character is physically seeing, but it does get tedious and overused throughout its length. The story is well written, though the case is not as interesting characters themselves. As I've come to expect in Johnnie To movies, the female characters don't have a big impact on the story. While it's certainly an improvement that the female characters help us learn about our main character unlike To other movies, they don't have much of an impact on the story. The character themselves are interesting through Chan point of view as we get as it adds another dimension to these character who don't all appear as they look. As much as I liked the character of inspector Chan, some will find him unrealistic. One notable example include Chan cutting his ear and giving it to his retiring boss as a gift. Its story driven by interesting that help move the movie forward. Even if the case is not as interesting as our characters, they help overlook that flaw.

To direction is spot on as usual with him always bringing the highest level of direction in his movie. The cast is terrific, especially Sean Lau Ching-Wan as Inspector Chan who brings brings a lot energy into the movie and character he portrays. He's easily, in my opinion, the best and most interesting of the cast. You do get to see some familiar faces if you've seen To other work, but thankfully he worked with other actors to prevent repetition. The climax of Mad Detective has easily has the best cinematography in the whole movie and its impressive in the way it's filmed.

Mad Detective has interesting characters that save movie from it boring case and not so interesting case. Mad Detective is certainly not for everyone, but it?s worth a watch for Sean Lau Ching-Wan performance and portrayal of Inspector Chan.
Super Reviewer
½ May 20, 2011
Though odd, supernatural, and unrealistic, Johnnie To's MAD DETECTIVE is an excellent detective thriller that uniquely delves into the human psyche and touches upon issues of multiple personalities, insanity, and the happenings and reactions of the mind. Although pacing is a bit off-kilter, the film features great performances with wild characters - starring Lau Ching Wan in a brilliant role - in leading up to a gorgeously-crafted climax that complements the film's clever framing and crisp cinematography. To's film is superbly made and enjoyably original, and definitely one that deserves a wider exposure.
Super Reviewer
½ October 4, 2010
In "Mad Detective," Inspector Bun(Lau Ching Wan) was once a highly decorated police detective with very unorthodox methods, like having himself flung down a flight of stairs in a suitcase. That life is over for him now, as he is no longer on the force, probably having to do with slicing his ear off. Now, Inspector Ho(Andy On), recalling the good old days when he worked with Bun five years previously, recruits him to help out on a case over the objections of Bun's wife(Flora Chan) and most of the detectives under his command. Detective Wong went missing 18 months previously, yet his gun is still making the rounds in a series of armed robberies that have left five dead. After following and meeting with Wong's partner Chi Wai(Lam Ka Tung), they are no closer to solving the case.

The stylish and violent mystery film, "Mad Detective," may resemble the current trend of "defective detectives" on television(especially the sorely missed "Raines" which was also from 2007) but is better because it goes darker and deeper in exploring an abnormal psychology. While it might be initially confusing for the viewer to sort out what Bun sees(he claims to see a person's inner personalities), imagine how he feels. On the one hand, he can see patterns no one else can see but he also has extremely violent tendencies that puts him on a par with the criminals he pursues.
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2009
Frustatingly underwritten film with an excellent concept (sort of Dead Zone meets Medium). It ends up feeling like a very glossy TV Pilot.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2008
..Superb film, so odd in places but very easy to follow with some great scenes. The detecive is basically psychic and can tune into certain things...shame it drove him nuts...dont be put off by the subtitles, they just add to the appeal of this one.
Super Reviewer
½ December 4, 2009
Johnnie To and Ka Fai Wai create a smart, exciting and moving detective movie. Not to go too much into spoiler territory, but within this "wacky" detective story is a poignant look into one's loss of morality and the lengths we go to for self preservation. Highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2009
Inconsistent,unconvincing,and a convoluted film, with a sloppy script and a one-trick gimmick that plods along at an uneven pace. I love Johnny To films..and Ching Wan Lau is as good an actor as they come; that being said, this is a jumbled, confusing story that is not that dramatic, not that exciting nor has enough charm to carry it...the 7 personalities 'revelation'of the key suspect is effective the first 7 or so times its used; after that it seems a bit overdone. I expected more from To, who has produced and directed some of the finest films originating out of HK in the last 10 years..see it for the decent performances, enjoy the quirkiness that is trademark of a To film, but be advised it's not quite up to the standard of excellence I am used to from a Milkyway production.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2008
Imagine a blending of A Beautiful Mind, Monk and Infernal Affairs with a healthy dose of 40?s Film Noir and you come up with this intense, powerful film by Johnny To. This is another Hong Kong film destined to be ripped off by American filmmakers
½ January 3, 2016
I was able to catch up on a more recent Johnny To film via cable and I quite enjoyed Lau Ching Wan as the titular detective, who is able to see the true personalities of criminals, allowing him to solve increasingly strange cases.

Well worth a look.
September 4, 2009
Absolutely excellent psycho-suspense! Full of cinematic creativity. Great directing, screenplay, and performances. Personally, I prefer films directed only by Johnny To than ones that To co-directs with Ka-Fai Wai, but this one's an exception. To and Wai's partnership dates back to more than 10 years ago, and they have been constantly releasing films, but they are much more fictional (often with some eccentric or supernatural ideas), richer in variety (genres), and often have more elements of romance and comedy than films directed only by To. It's unclear how they divide their parts in the collaboration, but in it I guess To's auteurship is not as strong as his own film, and he seem to have been taking a role of a supervisor or a pure mise-en-scene craftsman. In "Mad Detective," the collaboration is the most successful - the basic idea of a kind of supernatural power is well-mixed with the noir style. Also, the composition to make you doubt if the supernatural power of the hero is real or not (if he really has supernatural power or is a complete psycho) keeps you in suspense till the film ends. The idea itself is original and great, but how it is shown visually in the picture is absolutely fantastic and has a lot to learn. Also, I love the last gunfight in a mirror room (an homage to Welles's "Lady from Shanghai") and the ending which suggests weakness and foolishness. Ching-Wan Lau gives a terrific performance in a difficult role to play.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2010
Parts of this movie were good & some parts were just way out there.Sometimes I wanted to keep watching & other times I just wanted to turn it off
July 24, 2008
A retired police is coaxed to help solve a case due to his supernatural ability to solve crime. In addition he can see a person's inner personalities in the form of one or more people in place of the real person. This isn't quite clearly explained by the film and on a few instances things don't really make sense. On the other hand I liked how To was ambiguous as to whether the character is using his gift or is just plain crazy. Overall it feels gimmicky because To doesn't develop this multiple personality idea, and at times it comes across as too simplistic. The hall of mirrors ending was pretty cool, though the conclusion is unnecessary.
March 21, 2008
Another very, very solid crime drama from Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai. One of my favorite asian director.

The titular mad detective is Bun (Lau Ching-wan), who has some very unconventional means of solving some very big crimes. His quirks are enough to earn the respect of rookie inspector Ho (Andy On), but when Bun cuts off his own ear as a gift for a retiring boss, the oddball is forced into early retirement. Flash-forward five years, where Ho is now the top gun in the homicide department, and gets in touch with Bun to help him solve a case involving a missing cop and his gun, which has been used in a string of armed robberies. Bun is nuttier than ever, professing to see both an invisible wife and the "inner personalities" of anyone he encounters. Also, he looks like an Asian version of Kenny Hotz. But is Bun crazy, or crazy like a fox?

I think this can only been seen of IFC but will have a limited run in bigger markets and have a DVD release later this year.

Its worth the 90 minutes.

Vmedia UCB
½ January 27, 2008
A superbly unique and moody film, with some great performances and an astounding screenplay. Definitely riveting and interesting, playing on some very ambigious levels and ideas. Johnny's really improved as a director of good drama here and his collaborator Ka-Fei Wai has really improved on his writing, leading to them creating one of the best films of 2007 for me. 8)
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