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Superstar Jiang Wen stars as a small-town cop desperately trying to track down his lost service weapon in director Lu Chuan's stylish updating of Kurosawa's Stray Dog.
Loosely based on Akira Kurosawa's classic Stray Dog, the auspicious debut from leading contemporary director Lu Chuan follows small-town cop Ma Shan (the compulsively watchable Jiang Wen) as he desperately tries to track down the service revolver he misplaced following a night of drunken revelry. As Ma moves up and down the social ladder in his desperate search — with everyday betrayals and unexpected killings cropping up along the way — each of his interactions with the town's citizenry speaks volumes, through body language and nuanced performance, about the relationship between those in authority and those they are meant to protect. A huge hit at the domestic box office, The Missing Gun brought a brash new energy to Chinese cinema and signalled the absorption of the marginal characters of Sixth Generation filmmaking into the mainstream. While Jiang's Ma has a kinship with the petty-crook protagonists of the early films by Jia Zhangke and Lou Ye, the film's madly kinetic camerawork and breathless editing make it far more akin to Danny Boyle's Trainspotting. "The heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Jiang Wen, who proves more than worthy of the task. His slow-burning intensity with moments of explosive emotion supplies an intriguing interior monologue with the character's essential decency" (George Wu, culturevulture.net).