The brilliant story of The Devotion of Suspect X is recaptured for the Chinese audience in director Alec Su’s second film. Aided by a much superior story, a better cast, and more fitting cinematography, Alec Su unfortunately is handicapped by his poor control of the film.
The suspense/detective tale with a twist features Zhang Luyi as Shi Hong, a genius and a loner who tries to help his neighbor Chen Jing (Ruby Lin) to cover up her murder of her ex-husband. Unfortunately for the pair, their crime caught the eye of Tang Chuan (Wang Kai), a physicist and Shi Hong’s best friend in high school. Tang Chuan is called upon to help detective Luo Miao (Ye Zuxin) to solve the murder, but along the way gets caught in the crime itself.
The story is compelling by itself, and Alec Su managed to make it remain that, but nothing more. You can tell he really tries to delve deeper, but fell mostly flat. In one scene, he shot an American Beauty-styled segment of a lost leaf in an attempt to make some deep metaphor that simply added nothing to the story.
Zhang Luyi was convincing as a loner, but not so much as the other roles his character plays – an ordinary middle school teacher, a math genius, and occasionally a total creep. Wang Kai looked great in all the three-piece suits and shone through in a few scenes, but I think the choice to make Tang Chuan a part of the police academy was unfortunate, as it was perhaps the angle with the most potential – what happens when emotions and justice comes in conflict with the pursuit of the truth?
Overall, the film is a decent second project from Alec Su, but he still has a long way to go.
The film is currently airing in the U.S.