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3.35- THE MISSING GUN (DVD Review)

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DVD review: THE MIISING GUN (aka Xun Qiang)

by David Blackwell

Detective Ma Shan wakes up to go to work when he finds his gun is missing. He frantically searches for it at home, and then he thinks he has it stored at his police locker only to find it's not there! He remembers he took it with him to a wedding last night. He doesn't remember last night because he got very drunk. Ma Shan tries to find his gun before his superiors find out about the missing gun, but the stakes are raised when his ex-girlfriend, Li Xiaomeng, ends up dead from a bullet in Ma Shan's gun and he must find his gun before the other two bullets are used.

THE MISSING GUN is an interesting existential thriller that is a also a drama that looks at the different culture of China in a small town. China is a different world from the US. Civilians aren't allowed to own guns, and a missing gun is a serious matter that could have dire consequences. Ma Shan is fueled by desperation in search for his missing gun that ends up affecting his wife who deeply cares for him even though he does say (at one point) "He may not be a good husband or a good father, but he never cheated on her". Everyone in the town thinks Ma Shan is a very good man, and everyone is friendly to each other in a very closely-knitted community that looks like a third world country.

The movie is well acted and well-shot under the very capable direction of Lu Chuan (who did this movie after he finished film school). The movie makes very good use of the $250,000 budget. Lu Chan wrote the screenplay which is based on a short story ("The Search For a Missing Gun") by Fan Yiping. The movie comes across with lots of depth from looking deep into the character of Ma Shan as we see the world through his eyes (except for a few scenes). Not bad for a ninety minute movie.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The movie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Daytime scenes are nice and sharp. There are some specks that show up on the print they used for the transfer to DVD. Low light and night scenes are grainy.

Audio is in Chinese 5.1 Dolby digital with option of English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese subtitles.

EXTRAS: There are only three trailers- THE MISSING GUN, THE PACT OF SILENCE, and THE SEA IS WATCHING. There are no other extras.

MENUS:  The menus are static pictures done in a gritty comic book art style that reminds me slightly of Geoff Darrow.

FINAL VERDICT: The only problem I found with the DVD in my player is you have to start from the beginning of the movie if you push stop during the movie.  THE MISSING GUN is definitely worth a rental, but you may not to buy it if existential thrillers/dramas are your kind of thing.  

this review is (c)4-28-2004 David Blackwell and this review can't be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia