Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Alternate Best Actor 2007: Lau Ching Wan in Mad Detective

Lau Ching Wan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Inspector Chan Kwai Bun in Mad Detective.

Mad Detective is a thriller about a police detective trying to solve the crime through the help of of the titular character. The film has a very interesting central character, but I think the plot it decides to run him through feels a bit too routine.

Lau Ching Wan plays that central character who we first meet as he pulls a Vincent van Gogh and cuts off his own ear to give to his boss as a retirement gift. This leads the Inspector to be fired from the force because it is rather obvious that he is a schizophrenic. Lau Ching Wan's performance is all about creating the state of the mad detective since he's always mad whenever we see him on screen. There is never a point in which he seems "sane" so to speak since even his most sane conversations are with his wife, who just happens to be only in his head as well. The mad detective's abilities as a detective come from his ability to be able to see the different personalities that influence people to cause crimes. No one else can see these people though and it is seen simply as hallucinations by others. As a performance as at least an assumed schizophrenic Ching Wan's performance is a bit unique because unlike say Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko or Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind where those actors both portrayed the pain inflicted upon them due to their condition, Ching Wan portrays Inspector Bun to be a man who wholly embraces his insanity.

Ching Wan goes head first with his performance since he is always within whatever realm of thinking that the mad detective is in. Ching Wan portrays Bun as though he is always watching and observing everything around him, as though he is in detective mode even at the beginning of the film when he spots a shoplifter being prodded by one of their alternative personalities. There is an intensity with this by Ching Wan as he brings a great deal of distress in Bun as he sees these other people. Of course this is no distress for seeing them, but the distress always comes from the inspector's desire to stop the crime, or at least the criminal personality from influencing the person. The moments where Bun is allowed some solace is when he is interacting with his "wife". There is such a earnest warmth and tenderness Ching Wan brings in these interactions as he shows that his mental state can be a comfort for the man. The particularly effective scenes in this regard is when we see it from the real perspective and merely watch Bun interact with an empty space. The love that Ching Wan expresses in Bun's eyes though seems to oddly give that space substance.

The inspector is called upon a younger detective having trouble with a case and needs the expertise of the mad detective to help him. These bring about what are really the highlights of the film which are when Inspector Bun is truly in his element, which is whenever he is solving a crime with his seemingly superhuman abilities. Ching Wan matches this idea with his performance as he shows absolutely no hesitation in the detectives manner as he goes about his investigations in his own way, which includes reenacting parts of the case himself. Ching Wan is very entertaining actually in these scenes as he plays it as almost a sort of dance as the inspector maneuvers through the crime scenes. Ching Wan realizes the style of the mad Detective quite effectively as he takes us through his odd method of solving the crime. Although the method is indeed mad the way Ching Wan manages to perform it gives an odd credence to it even before we find out whether or not the inspector actually produces any results. There is indeed something compelling though simply through Lau Ching Wan's portrayal of the mad detectives insanity since he manages to create that purpose within every weird action he takes.

The film I feel takes a bit of a wrong turn in that he begins to somewhat ignore the character study of Inspector Chan Kwai Bun within the investigation, and slowly gets too caught up with the other elements of the plot. In this case it is mainly the other police officer they are investigating for the crime begins to attempt to set up Inspector Bun in a way that convinces the younger detective to not only doubt Bun's abilities but also begin to think that it is in fact that Bun is the killer they are looking for. The main problem with this is it takes away time from Lau Ching Wan which is not a good thing, and when it gets caught into the mechanics of the plot it begins to forget that the mad detective is the only character interesting enough to carry the film, the evil cops multiple personalities could have perhaps but they don't quite realize them well enough. The scenes with Inspector Bun though still do stay intriguing, and there is one particularly good scene for Lau Ching Wan when Bun is confronted by his actual wife, while being spoken to by his imaginary wife at the same time. Lau Ching Wan's terrific in the scene by providing the confusion in the detective as it is obvious he does not know quite how to comprehend two things trying to occupy the same space. The film unfortunately decides to end with the least interesting aspect of the film which ends via a rather standard shootout, Ching Wan still gets a memorable moment when he executes the main villain, but his own story feels somewhat ignored. Even with the somewhat underwhelming ending for his character Lau Ching Wan still manages to create quite the fascinating sort of madness with the role, and I only wish the film had more closely focused on this.


Anonymous said...

I thought that you would have liked him less, so I'm pretty glad that you gave him a 4.5. Louis I'd like to ask you what are your ratings and thoughts on Joan Allen in Nixon, Chloë Sevigny in Kids, Mercedes Rhuel in The Fisher King, Cher in Moonstruck, Julie Christie and Dyan Cannon in Heaven Can Wait and Jane Alexander in The Great White Hope?

luke higham said...

Louis: I'm sure RatedRStar's gonna be happy with your review.

Calvin Law said...

I would give him a solid 5 but I can definitely see where your reservations are coming from!

JackiBoyz said...

@Louis: So it seems, as with all of RatedRStars other Hong Kong requests, that the actors tend to be better than the films they are in, which probably would make him quite happy, also do you reckon there was evidence to suggest, from RatedRStars claim that Lau Ching Wan is Hong Kongs best actor or has the potential to be.

@Luke: I actually textd Daniel not too long ago and he said he was kinda down in the dumps and not feeling too well recently so.

Calvin Law said...

@JackiBoyz: I won't speak for Louis but I do think Lau Ching Wan is by far Hong Kong's most talented actor, more so even than Leung Chiu Wai.

luke higham said...

Jackiboyz: Thanks, I was a bit worried that it may have been something worse.

luke higham said...

Calvin: Have you seen Walk Hard yet. If so, did you watch either the theatrical version or the unrated extended version.
Plus, your rating & thoughts on Reilly.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I haven't unfortunately, I most certainly will when I've the time. I'm interested to see what Louis will think...

luke higham said...

Calvin: You know, Reilly's a 4.5 for me, but I personally want him to get a 5 since '07 Lead's been a bit lacking in terms of 5s, for my liking.

luke higham said...

Calvin: I was hoping for about 6 overall, but what can you do.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Same. I hope Louis will do 10 for 1962 and 1939 lead and supporting too, those years are very worthy of that as well. I think the final ranking will be:

1. Affleck
2. Pitt
3. Day-Lewis
4. Hoffman
5. Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)

luke higham said...

Calvin: I Would say 10 for '62 Lead and 10+ for Supporting (Lawrence Of Arabia supporting cast). For '39 Lead and Supporting, I'd expect between 6 to 8, because of it being a fairly early year.
I Predict
1. Affleck
2. Pitt
3. Day-Lewis
4. Hoffman
5. Affleck/Wan

From a Personal standpoint
1. Affleck
2. Pitt
3. Day-Lewis
4. Hoffman
5. Reilly

Calvin Law said...


Just wondering does anyone know the name (s) of the song Psifonian uses in this video, it's fucking awesome

Psifonian said...

"Finale" from "Dragonheart" and "Beethoven's 7th Symphony" from "The King's Speech."

Fun fact: I'm actually updating this montage as we speak.

Calvin Law said...

Thanks Psifonian! Your montages are GREAT

I hope, for Lawrence of Arabia's supporting cast, for the following ratings:

Sharif (upgrade to a 5)
Guinness (4.5, although he would be deserving of a 5 too)
Quinn (4)
Hawkins (4/4.5)
Ferrer (4.5 probably, I don't love him as much as Louis seems to though)
Quayle (4.5, he's my second favourite supporting performance and I hope this will be one of Louis' secret gems)
Rains (5, his performance has really just grown on me)
Kennedy (4.5)

luke higham said...

Calvin: I hope for the best, with each member of the 'LOA' supporting cast, but I would especially like to see Sharif get upgraded to a 5.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Top Ten Female Lead & Supporting Performances of 2007 with ratings and any other performances that would get a 4 from you.

Louis Morgan said...


Allen - 4(She very good at the ice cold wife routine, as those stares of hers are worth a million biting remarks. She's good at those too though. My rating might sound low, but that's mainly because the one scene where she might have a chance to show a different side of the film's version of Pat Nixon but it rings extremely false, and I don't think that was the point of the scene)

Have not seen kids.

Ruehl - 3.5(I like her performance well enough in that she brings enough charm to the semi-supportive girlfriend role. I don't think it's much of a part, but she brings an honesty to the role that probably would not have been there if left to the writing)

Cher - 4.5(She's very good here actually in that she gives just endearing performance. She's interesting in that she kinda plays into a somewhat overt caricature in terms of some of the Italian mannerisms. She has fun with this but never goes too far and keeps her character believable. Her chemistry with Cage is enjoyable and she does good work here)

Christie - 2.5(She really does not do much of anything to make anything out of her nothing role. She's not actively bad though, but she's not charming enough to make up for the role's lack of substance)

Cannon - 3(She's kinda funny I guess)

Alexander - 2(A really bland performance for the most part as she leaves too much to Jones and does not even amplify his work due to her dour reactions. Her big emotional scene falls horribly flat, and fails to leave an impression despite the rather extreme nature of her exit)


I've only seen two films of his, I liked him in both so it's possible.



1. Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose - 5
2. Amy Adams - Enchanted - 4.5
3. Naomi Watts - Eastern Promises
4. Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd
5. Julie Christie - Away From Her - 4
6. Laura Linney - The Savages
7. Ellen Page - Juno - 3.5
8. Charlize Theron - In The Valley of Elah - 3.5
9. Markéta Irglová - Once - 3
10. Claire Danes - Stardust - 3

Supporting Actress:

1. Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
2. Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
3. Imelda Staunton - Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
4. Kelly MacDonald - No Country For Old Men - 4.5
5. Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
6. Marcia Gay Harden - The Mist - 4.5
7. Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
8. Olympia Dukakis - Away From Her - 4
9. Billie Whitelaw - Hot Fuzz - 4
10. Michelle Pfeiffer - Stardust - 4


Anjelica Huston - Seraphim Falls

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

If you're looking for an easy 5 for lead actress, look no further than Tang Wei in Lust, Caution.

luke higham said...

Louis: Thank You Louis. I'm so fucking glad you loved Cotillard.
Thoughts on Cotillard, MacDonald, Gay Harden, Christie, Dukakis, Whitelaw and Pfeiffer.

luke higham said...

Marion Cotillard is only the third actress to get 3 5s so far, the others are Sissy Spacek and Faye Dunaway. =)

Louis: Is Marion now in your top ten actresses list.
Ratings & Thoughts on the cast of Stardust.

luke higham said...

Louis: Save your thoughts on Whitelaw, until Dalton's review.

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your thoughts on Staunton in The Order Of The Phoenix as well please.

Scott Gingold said...

Louis, please do full actress reviews at some point.

Also Louis & Everyone, thoughts and ratings on:
Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Ethan Hawke, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List
Anton Yelchin, Charlie Bartlett
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson's War
Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
Will Smith, I Am Legend
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
Josh Brolin/Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Glen Hansard, Once
Jonah Hill, Superbad
Don Cheadle, Talk to Me
Jake Gyllenhaal, Zodiac

Calvin Law said...

Washington: 4
Hawke: 4
Freeman: 3
Nicholson: 3.5
Hanks: 2
Amalric: 4.5
Smith: 3.5
Hirsch: 3
Gosling: 4.5
Brolin: 4
Lee Jones: 4
Hansard: 2.5
Hill: 2.5 (I'd give Cera a 3.5 actually)
Cheadle: 4.5
Gyllenhaal: 4

Calvin Law said...

I need to re-watch American Gangster and Zodiac though

luke higham said...

Scott: I'm telling you now, it won't happen anytime soon and probably not ever.
The point of the blog in the first place was to review male performances, If Louis, were to do actress reviews, it would be mostly predictable, since we already know his ratings & thoughts on alot of them, plus, I've been asking him for his top 5 Lead & Supporting rankings for the past week and a half, which makes it even worse.

The Bonus Rounds are coming up next and after that, I hope that Louis takes up my TV Idea.

Louis: Can you save your ratings & thoughts on the performances that Scott mentioned, with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones, until the Lead Ranking, since I want Reilly's review posted as quickly as possible.

luke higham said...

Louis: What I meant with Tommy Lee Jones, was to save him for a Supporting review.

luke higham said...

Washington: 4
Hawke: 4.5
Freeman: 3
Nicholson: 3
Smith: 3.5
Hirsch: 3
Gosling: 4.5
Brolin: 4.5
Lee Jones: 4.5
Hansard: 3
Hill: 3
Gyllenhaal: 4

Calvin Law said...

Luke: What are your top 10 television film/miniseries performances of all time.

1. Ian Richardson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. Alec Guinness, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3. Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I
4. Gary Oldman, The Firm
5. Al Pacino, Angels in America
6. Ben Whishaw, Richard II (Hollow Crown)
7. Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit
8. Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
9. Julianne Moore, Game Change
10. Donald Sutherland, Citizen X

luke higham said...

Off The Top of my head
1. Alec Guinness in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall
3. Gary Oldman in The Firm
4. Ben Whishaw in Richard II
5. Paul Giamatti in John Adams
6. Helen Mirren in Elizabeth I
7. Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R
8. Jeremy Irons in Henry IV Parts I and II
9. Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards
10. James Nesbitt in The Missing

luke higham said...

Calvin: I just happened to watch both parts of Elizabeth I again yesterday, so can I have your ratings & thoughts on Mirren, Irons and Dancy.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@Scott: I can only comment on the ones I've seen.

Hawke - 4, bordering on 4.5
Hanks - 3.5
Hirsch - 3.5
Brolin - 3.5
Jones - 3.5
Hill - 2.5 (I fail to see the appeal of this movie and its cast.)
Gyllenhaal - 2.5 (Sort of miscast, to be honest. Ruffalo was better.)

Calvin Law said...

I HAVE to see, Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards, and Rylance in Wolf Hall, both sound like amazing performances.

Mirren: 5 (she's the definitive Elizabeth I for me, though I have yet to see Jackson and I really need to. She carries herself with the right amount of intense, imposing presence, blending the outwardly witty side with the more understated determination incredibly well.)

Irons: 4.5 (he's a perfect sparring partner for Mirren as he just so effortlessly becomes the Earl of Leicester, his final scene is incredibly heartbreaking)

Dancy: 4 (the more I see of him the more impressed I am, his work on Hannibal is rather sterling and on this he's appropriately caddish and deceptive, his final scenes are especially good)

luke higham said...

Calvin: On the whole, I've actually enjoyed Wolf Hall more than Game Of Thrones this year and there is no justice if Rylance doesn't win the BAFTA next year.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Thoughts/ratings on

Cumberbatch/Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards
Rylance/Lewis in Wolf Hall

Calvin Law said...

Rylance is a great actor, he was amazing in the stage production of Jerusalem. Thomas Cromwell is a fascinating character and I'm sure he nails it.

Future head to head perhaps? Dyall v.s. McKern v.s. Pleasence v.s. Rylance

Calvin Law said...

Or indeed, Henry VIII

Calvin Law said...

Also how is Claire Foy in Wolf Hall, I forgot to put her on my list (she would be #9 for me) for Little Dorrit

luke higham said...

I'll save my thoughts on Hardy & Cumberbatch for a later date, since it's been awhile, but they're a 5 and a 4 respectively.

Rylance - 5 (One of the all-time great performances in any TV Film/Miniseries to date. Rylance gives extraordinarily understated work in the scenes with his family and is incredibly heartbreaking when tragedy strikes. He has an Amazing chemistry with Lewis, Foy, Lesser and Pryce 'They're scenes together are absolute dynamite'. Whenever Cromwell's power grows, Rylance is all the more compelling, as he seeks revenge for a friend's downfall)

Lewis - 4.5/5 (One of the better portrayals of the Tyrannical Monarch, as he exudes power in every scene, he is in and he shares an amazing scene with Rylance, as he is encouraged by Cromwell to become the king he was meant to be)

Ratings for the rest of the cast.
Foy - 4.5/5
Pryce - 4.5/5
Lesser - 4.5
Hill - 4
Gatiss - 4

luke higham said...

Calvin: Foy was Great as well and she is what you would expect Anne Boleyn to be, Cold, yet very sympathetic.

luke higham said...

Calvin: Rylance is one of the best actors working today in any medium, and would actually make my Current top ten list.

luke higham said...

Calvin: Don't forget Wolfe Morris's portrayal of Cromwell in the 1970 TV Version of The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.

I would also cover Michell in both the TV and Film versions as well in The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.

luke higham said...

*Their scenes together are absolute dynamite.

Michael Patison said...

Luke: omg Rylance was fucking fantastic in Wolf Hall, as was the miniseries as a whole. Brilliant stuff. If I were to start talking about it I wouldn't be able to stop, so I won't.

I won't take the time to make a top 10 for the miniseries/TV movie performance thing, but I'll just mention a few nobody has mentioned:
Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan in The Fall (it's not really a miniseries since its story isn't fully contained within one season/series, but each season/series is too short to be considered a full
Jonathan Pryce in Wolf Hall (I know he was mentioned, but he wasn't listed)
Charles Dance in Bleak House (Gillian Anderson too)--Bleak House is far and away my favorite of Dickens' novel and the miniseries nails it.
Ian Richardson in House of Cards