Detective Chinatown III- The biggest blockbuster in China

Detective Chinatown III- The biggest blockbuster in China

In Short: You can watch the movie, you will surely have a good time. You’ll laugh at times, but you’re not going to get much more out of it. And if you’ve seen the previous installments, you’ll feel a bit disappointed.

As its name suggests this is the third film in the Detective Chinatown series, which despite the furor it has aroused in China and other Asian markets, has passed more discreetly in the West, where the Chinese films that have some acceptance are either of the type we used to call «art-house», or those of Jackie Chan and other expert fighters, which always have a loyal audience.

Its premiere during the Chinese New Year vacations in February, was a resounding event as it has entered the history of cinema with the highest opening day box office takings of a film in a single market ($163 million in China). An event that has been well worked by the production company, with a good advertising campaign in the media, and, delayed a year due to the difficulties imposed by the COVID, has caught the viewers eager to see precisely an entertaining and fun product as were the other two installments of the series. People were eager to laugh, to have a good time during the vacations, and the film knew how to sell itself as a golden opportunity to do so.

I say “as were” because in this third installment the freshness that catapulted this detective duo to fame is lost. They are the hyper-intelligent Qin Feng (Liu Haoran), capable of remembering any situation he has seen before, and the first in the scale of the most efficient detectives, and his grotesque uncle Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang), in the role of a buffoon, but who, thanks to his mastery of fengshui and martial arts, makes important contributions to the resolution of the crimes they are entrusted with.

On this occasion, after having show their genius in Bangkok and New York, they are hired in Tokyo to solve a complex case. A murder in a locked room in which there are only two people, one turns out to be dead and the other maintains that he is innocent.  The combination of humor and mystery works well, and of course it has a number of scenes that make you laugh and a plot that keeps you interested to know how the enigma the detectives face will be solved.

But I insist, the film has been losing freshness, some of the gags are repetitive. Many of the comic situations no longer have the grace and spontaneity that one felt when discovering them in the other films. This time the two detectives are accompanied by two other detectives, one Japanese and one Thai, perhaps to lure audiences from other arkets. It is true that the rudeness committed by Uncle Tang Ren as soon as he met a pretty woman has been eliminated, possibly also to increase the spectrum of audiences that could be attracted, but in the end this experiment fails.

That combination of mystery and humor that worked so well in the previous installments, here is diluted in accessory plots that contribute nothing to the central theme of the film, from the presence of a secret organization that aims to direct the destinies of the world, to the detailed and sad story that ends up showing the viewer the solution to the riddle posed. Scenes sometimes with a drama that can hardly be combined with the lighthearted tone of the film.

In short: the viewer will laugh and have a good time, but will not find more in the film, not even that humor that somehow was discovered in the previous films, which mixed a little of everything but was original.

Title: Detective Chinatown III.

Year 2021

Running time 2h 16 min.

Directed by: Chen Sichen.

Screenplay: Chen Sichen and Liu Wusi


Wang Baoqiang as Tang Ren

Liu Haoran as Qin Feng

Satoshi Tsumabuki as detective Noda Hiroshi

Tony Jaa as Jack Jaa

Masami Nagasawa as Anna Kobayashi.

To cite this post: Ceinos-Arcones, Pedro, "Detective Chinatown III- The biggest blockbuster in China," in Ethnic China, 6 mayo 2021,

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