Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted

It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth
Peter Abelard

Title
The Missing  (2017) 
Also known as
Bang Jia Zhe
Genre
Action,   Crime,   Thriller
Written by
  Yang Yishu  
Directed by
Xu Jinglei
Starring
Country of Origin
China
Running time
90 minutes

oh! … brief

In the fictional city of Xuanyu, a series of unexplained missing children is the basis for an ongoing investigation. One of those missing is the child of a policewoman. She receives a phone call from a random man who claims to know the location of her child. His car is involved in an accident, seriously injuring him and his injuries result is temporary amnesia. Driven by desperation and her daughter’s asthma the policewoman proceeds to investigate herself and ends up working with the suspect to uncover the truth behind the missing children.

oh! … talks film

This film’s opening fight and chase scenes set the tone for what follows – a fair amount of action.  Following a long-assed and drawn out kdrama, this film was exactly what I needed to watch to recover my sanity.

Yang Yishu penned the screenplay and was rather lazy with its writing. She didn’t research her subject matter (kidnap and rescue with a twist) entirely and the result was the glaring and dubious police procedural activities and the many holes in the plot and side-plots of the story, but the narration was better than I expected.

The idea behind a policewoman whose child is missing working with the man who kidnapped her child is unique and could have made for an exceptional screenplay. However, Yang Yishu didn’t develop or flesh out the relationship between mother and child, nor did she develop the stories of the other missing children. Further, she didn’t even build emotional ties to the missing child who only appears in a few flashbacks and mostly from the standpoint of the so-called kidnapper. The policewoman’s hard-edged presence overshadows pretty much every other aspect. It was strange!

In fact, no attention was paid to building or developing the characters and their traits or personalities at all. Certainly, no attention was paid to developing relational ties between the police investigating the cases. How did the ‘mole’ suddenly become a mole and why was this big secret reveal written into the screenplay so poorly.

The premise which held so much promise delivers short of its potential. Yang Yishu failed in her job at delivering a sound screenplay.

Much like her career is spread thin and all over the place, so too was Xu Jinglei’s directing of this production. Known for her award-winning art-house styled films and relationship film successes, I eagerly anticipated a breakthrough for Xu Jinglei with this genre. However, apart from the film’s hard-edged visual styling and solid action choreography, the film is sadly lacking any oomph!

The cinematography was neither exceptional nor abysmal, it was balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The wardrobe was the same, neither exceptional nor abysmal. Can we go back and get more bare-chested scenes with Huang Lixing, please?  The accompanying soundtrack by An Wei included the song Yang Naiwen.

The female lead spends so much time screaming or having temper tantrums, it’s hard to believe she was ever a competent policewoman. The saving grace of the production is perhaps the male lead.

Huang Lixing (Stanley Huang) played Yang Nian, the kidnapper who has amnesia following a motor vehicle accident. Huang Lixing typically accepts RomCom roles, so it was engrossing to watch him play an athletic hard-nosed kidnapper. He sure has the body for it and you won’t be disappointed with the many bare-chested scenes. And Huang Lixing is such a talented actor-singer. The role he played was extremely physical, lots of action with fighting, gunplay and sparring with and without weapons, not to mention all the running around. He inhabited his character, interpreted and delivered a realistic performance in spite of the piss-poor screenplay. I was very impressed! But then again, I’ve a thing for bad boys, I always have had.

Bai Baihe, an aspiring young actress played Lin Wei, the policewoman whose child has been abducted. Bai Baihe, like Huang Lixing, is known for her appearances in RomCom and that can certainly be part of the reason that her acting as for this production was off kilter. She neither succeeded at displaying any competence as a policewoman or a woman struck by maternal grief. Yes, the screenplay is partly to blame, and it’s undoubted that the direction she received from Xu Jinglei was flawed, but, as a professional actress, she could have conducted a better interpretation of her character. She did, however, excel in her action scenes, and while her acting was overkill, she didn’t distract from the overall. Her final fight scene on the hospital helipad was engrossing and detailed. I just wish she’d found her feet in the acting to make it more believable.

Ming Dao’s depiction of Lu Ran was off the charts, not in a good way. Bland and emotionless, then in his final fight scene on the helipad of the hospital building, suddenly his emotions are all over the place. And who would ever have thought he would be the mole? No clues just suddenly dropped like a tonne of bricks. It was so stupid the writing behind of this character. One dimensional and no backstory other than the end which didn’t even make sense.

oh! … that’s a wrap

I enjoyed this production, even with the glaring flaws in the script and directing because it was badly needed following a horrendous kdrama. Would I recommend this film? Likely not. It was nothing to write home about. Would I watch it again? Likely not.

If you enjoy action, crime, and thriller genres then this might be your cup of tea, but be warned, it is far, very far from perfect. The action, cinematography and Huang Lixing are the only good things about this film.

 oh! … soundtrack

No soundtrack is available online at the time.

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailer

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