Movie review of “Saving Mr. Wu”: This tough-minded police procedural from China doesn’t have an ounce of fat on its bones. Shot in Beijing, it’s a kidnap story about the abduction of a high-profile movie star by a gang led by a cunning sociopath. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
“Saving Mr. Wu” is a tough-minded police procedural from China without an ounce of fat on its bones.
Shot in Beijing and based on a real-life case, it’s a kidnap story about the abduction of a high-profile movie star (Andy Lau) by a gang led by a cunning sociopath (Wang Qianyuan).
It’s a ticking-clock thriller in which movie star Mr. Wu and a fellow abductee face an inexorably approaching deadline that could mean their doom.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Saving Mr. Wu,’ with Andy Lau, Wang Qianyuan. Written and directed by Ding Sheng. 106 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence, language). In Mandarin, with English subtitles. Pacific Place.
Filmed mostly at night by writer-director Ding Sheng, it’s replete with all the expected cop-movie sights and sounds: speeding cars, lights and sirens, gunshots and grim-faced lawmen staring into surveillance screens, sifting for clues that will lead them to the kidnappers.
Most Read Entertainment Stories
- 3 Seattle teachers win $1 million in National Geographic's 'Race to the Center of the Earth'
- How an afternoon of filming in Seattle went for Steven Soderbergh's new film, 'Kimi'
- Now streaming: 'The Underground Railroad,' 'Those Who Wish Me Dead,' 'MLK/FBI' and more
- Looking for good noir novels set in the Pacific Northwest? Here are some reader recommendations
- Our critic goes to 3 kinds of shows, as live music slowly comes back in Seattle. Here's what they're like
Nothing new here, in other words, but the director deploys all the familiar tropes with an assured forcefulness that makes the movie crackle with a rough energy.
What is out of the ordinary is the depth of characterizations of the two main figures. Wu, who spends most of the picture chained to a chair in the gang’s dingy hideout, is brave to the point of near-fearlessness.
He verbally spars with his captor, seeking to determine if the guy has a vestige of a better nature and trying to appeal to that. “I can’t respect you if you play dirty,” he says, attempting to somehow shame his abductor into more humane behavior.
His captor, Zhang, is intrigued by Wu’s attempts to locate a sliver of humanity in him, but he has no conscience and is enraptured with his own cleverness and evil nature.
The back-and-forth between the two gives “Mr. Wu” an unexpected dramatic heft.