Genre: Mystery Drama
Director: Lu Chuan
Starring: Jiang Wen, Huang Fan, Liang Shi, Ning Jing, Wu Yujuan
Duration: 87 min.
Small-town policeman Ma Shan wakes up one morning to discover that his gun is missing. During his search, things take a sinister turn when his first love turns up dead and the bullet appears to be from his gun.
The Missing Gun is the directorial debut of up and coming Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan (Mountain Patrol), adapted from a short story by Fan Yiping. It premiered at the 9th annual Beijing Student Film Festival.
It is set in a small town in southwestern China, and stars popular Chinese actor Jiang Wen in the role of policeman Ma Shan, who wakes up the morning after attending his sister's wedding to discover his service pistol missing from his holster. Guns are illegal in China so it is a big deal if one goes missing, especially in a small town, so he sets out discreetly trying to locate it before anyone else finds out its gone.
This was an interesting first effort, but has all the hallmarks of a young director standing on shoulders trying to find a voice of his own. By borrowing the basic story premise from Akira Kurosawa's 1949 classic Stray Dog, and also obviously showing some influence from the films of the French New Wave, with a frantic and disorienting hand held tracking opening sequence, and frequent use of jump cuts throughout. There's also an interesting use of an instrumental progressive rock score, but aside from Jiang Wen's performance, there just wasn't quite enough substance to keep this one going. The plot eventually bogs down and the final act felt a bit deflating, unable to maintain the hectic pace of the rest of the film.
What is most apparent after seeing all of Lu Chan's work, is his innovative visual style and the narrative realism used, lending a look and feel that are much more like a Western film than a Chinese film. They are refreshingly engaging and entertaining without the over the top action or melodrama we are used to seeing in Chinese cinema. It will be very interesting to see what he does with his next work The Last Supper, a period film from the Qin Dynasty.
— Bonjour Tristesse