Celebrating Lunar New Year with a bang, Detective Chinatown 3 <唐人街探案3> debuted with shattering box office sales. The film was originally slated for a 2020 release, but COVID-19 caused nationwide cinema shutdowns and pushed back Detective Chinatown 3‘s release by one year. Despite the long wait, viewers embraced the comedy with massive enthusiasm.
Over the holiday weekend, Chinese moviegoers packed theaters, recording the biggest opening weekend in China exceeding 5.5 billion Chinese yuan. Detective Chinatown 3 alone achieved a total box office of CNY 2.95 billion, making it the champion of all Lunar New Year films.
While Detective Chinatown 3 is a major box office hit, the film received mixed reviews. The criticisms point to the weaknesses in the story not living up to the same success as its predecessors.
Wang Baoqiang (王寶強) and Liu Haoran (刘昊然) return as the unlikedly detective duo who are in Tokyo solving a perplexing mystery. While their chemistry produced much humor in the first two installments, viewers felt the the comic relief only surfaced in slow-moving scenes and was more deliberate in Detective Chinatown 3.
Moviegoers loved the suspense of the first two films in the Detective Chinatown franchise, but the mystery in Detective Chinatown 3 was relatively weak and disappointing. While the ending concluded the mystery within reason, there was a lack of well-executed logical deduction which did not seamlessly link to the other two earlier films.
It is evident the franchise aims for the international market as the story is set in different countries in each installment: Thailand in the first movie, the United States in the second movie, and Japan for the third. While Detective Chinatown 3 made efforts in highlighting Chinese culture and also emphasizing other Asian cultures through its cast, settings, and costumes, the elements were not developed enough for audiences to feel fully submerged.
Despite mixed reviews, the Detective Chinatown films have proved to be a cash cow for producer/ director Chen Sicheng (陳思誠). The trilogy, along with his other films Beijing Love Story <北京愛情故事> and My People, My Homeland <我和我的家鄉>, have collectively surpassed CNY 10 billion in sales altogether, which makes Chen Sicheng the first director to make this achievement in Chinese film history.
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.