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As it stands, is a meandering meditative mystery that prefers contemplation to action; with some editing it could be a tight, serviceable crime thriller.The sweet spot would be somewhere in between, and if it can be found, the combination of star Aaron Kwok and the familiar subject matter should give the film a solid life at home in Hong Kong.
Yung deflates the police procedural balloon right out of the gate by creating a hero who’s less hot-headed maverick (no one tells Chong he’s suspended or that he’s costing the department millions) and more workmanlike professional that gets a little obsessed with a case.
He’s scruffy, his clothes look like they fit his salary, he gets on with his co-workers.
By the same token, there’s a great deal of detail worked into the investigation (via flashback) about Jiamei.
In 2010, Detective Chong (Kwok) and his partner Smoky (Patrick Tam, ) begin an investigation into the events surrounding the dismembered, headless corpse of a young woman in a tenement house.
Their prime suspect is moody, short-fused meat deliveryman Ting Tsz-chung (Michael Ning), a lonely outsider who relies on prostitutes for company.
As Chong digs into the crime, he gets more and more fixated on how Jiamei found herself in a position that threatened her life and who she really was.It’s a simple story, and the whodunit element is wrapped up by the midway point, when Ting walks into the police station to turn himself in. At a time when the safety and rights of sex workers — or lack thereof — are increasingly being called into question, the film, based on another gruesome, headline-grabbing story from five years ago, joins other films by the industry’s independent fringe on the subject: Herman Yau’s .Yung, however, opts out of easy sensationalism (for the most part) and takes a more muted, deliberate approach to the story of a 16-year-old Hunan girl living in Hong Kong who stumbles into prostitution and the journeyman cop who investigates her murder.Making its world premiere closing out HKIFF, this version of , was incendiary and foul-mouthed, but at roughly 100 minutes it seemed more compact and on point.Here, he takes something of a step back with his director’s cut, but what Yung and distributor Mei Ah will settle on for wide release is anybody’s guess.