[Image: Sorry there’s no image, I already wasted enough time to write a synopsis for this potentially great film tainted by too much poo. ]
Verdict: A sequel whose quality lives up to the original, with a tight, intriguing detective story and almost no wasted plot points. Unfortunately, the humor moves from voyeurism and verbal misogyny to straight-up sexual harassment from the leads, and ended with a huge f- you to the audience from the director Chen Sicheng that made me decide to never see another movie by him again.
In Detective Chinatown 2, scriptwriter-director Chen Sicheng proves himself once more as a talented scriptwriters and directors, but also the misogynistic jerk we all know he is. The sequel features a whodunnit story that’s just as compelling, full of plot twists, and sharply written as the first one. Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang) and ( Liu Haoran) once shine as the buddy cop pair, this time joined by the welcomed addition of Xiao Yang, the new guy framed for a series of mysterious murders in New York City.
Unfortunately, the story’s treatment of its female characters left me with so much bitter taste it’s hard to enjoy it. With two women in fridges, multiple sexual harassments and one incident that I think looked like sexual assault by Tang Ren, a cheap plot of “she-left-me-for-money” to get rid of the former female lead (Tong Liya), the story was oozing with misogyny.
*spoiler below*But what really ruined this for me was the way Chen Sicheng treated Ah-Xiang, the love interest in the first film played by Tong Liya, Chen’s real-life wife. Earlier in the film, it was mentioned that Ah-Xiang had left the male lead for because she wanted to marry rich. She does not appear in the film, paving the way for a new love interest for Tang Red to sexually harass.
Then, in a mid-credits scene, Ah-Xiang appears in an expensive-looking outfit, a drastic change from season 1. Tang Ren sees her and is clearly hoping she had left her husband for him. It turns out the rich man she had married was director Chen Sicheng himself. Ah-Xiang was not given a chance to explain why she chose to marry him. Instead, Chen takes Ah-Xiang as if he owns her, looks at the male lead and said I’ve been looking for you, and proceeds to beat him up. End scene.
If you follow Chinese gossip, you would know that last year, Chen Sicheng was caught on camera cheating on Tong Liya with a budding actress. Especially given that he doesn’t have a clean slate on cheating , netizens were critical and wished that she would leave him, perhaps as Tang Ren had hoped in the film.
The way Chen treated Tong Liya’s character like property, beating another man for merely talking to her, and the way he set it up so that she only stayed with him for his wealth felt like not only a a huge middle finger to the audience, but also a power play against Tong Liya. To me, his message was clear : you can hope that she divorces me all you want, but I’m rich so your goddess is just another one of my properties. Well, Chen Sicheng, I rise my middle finger to you, too.