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HTF REVIEW: The Missing Gun (1 Viewer)

Michael Osadciw

Jun 24, 2003
Real Name
Michael Osadciw


Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2002

U.S. Rating: PG-13
Canadian Rating: PG
Rated for: some violence and brief strong language

Film Length: 90 minutes
Genre: Action

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Audio: Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Closed Captioned: Yes

Release Date: May 4, 2004

Film Rating: :star: :star: :star: 1/2 / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

Starring: Jiang Wen (Ma Shan), Han Xiaoyun (Wu Yujuan), Ning Sing (Li Xiaomeng), Shi Liang (Zhou Xiaogang)

Also starring: Ji Pei, Huang Fan, Wei Xiaoping, Wang Xiaofan

Directed By: Chuan Lu
Writer: Chuan Lu

Poor Ma Shan. After too much drinking at his sister’s wedding the night before, he’s lost his memory of the events after leaving the reception to his arrival at home. This wouldn’t seem to be so bad because I’m betting it’s happened to a lot of you out there. For Shan, this IS really bad. Why? He’s a cop in China and he’s lost his gun – and there are three bullets left in the .54 pistol chamber. The big problem with this missing gun is because it is state-issued to him as an officer. According to the film, the Chinese government has banned guns in the country (I tried a little research and couldn’t find anything to confirm this, so if anyone knows this as a fact, or if it relates to certain Chinese provinces, that would be great). Since Ma lives in a remote community, many people have never seen a gun before. An obvious concern is that someone could either mistakenly of intentionally kill someone, or a few people.

The film starts at a quickening pace pushing the viewer along for a ride of what will seem to be a fun fast-paced film. It caught my attention with its fast photography and North American-style rock music and then…it stops. Ma Shan halts as he tries to retrace his steps by asking almost every person in the village if they know who took his gun…as if that person would admit to it. He also believes if he found out who drove him home that night he’d have a better chance of success. But no one seems to be giving him the whole truth. This topic is taboo to people because the driver was a girl in Ma’s past and doesn’t belong in his current life: past lover Li Xiaomeng, whom Shan's wife in his troubled marriage despises. Now he’s becoming increasingly worried that someone will die and that he’ll be suspected in the murder for all of the wrong reasons, so he has no choice to tell his superiors of the serious loss. Unfortunately he is too late. Xiaomeng is found dead with a bullet from Ma’s gun. Stripped of his uniform and suspected as the killer, Ma must try to clear his name and track down the gun before the trigger is pulled again…and again.

I enjoyed most of this film because Jiang’s character was portrayed in a semi-serious but comical way. The story was laid out immediately without any goofing around, but Ma’s immediate search for the gun did become tiring. Each interview with the village people dragged out too long without anything really interesting to grab hold of. The acting by some of those people wasn’t that great either…I wasn’t sure if I should have taken Ma’s sister’s crying seriously or satirical because it was so fake. What did keep me amused was looking at the scenic Chinese environment. Visually there was nothing too special, just a bunch of trees and rice fields, but it does look different than what I’m used to here so that alone kept me entertained. I also enjoyed both Jiang’s and Han Xiaoyun’s (who played his wife) performance. Her sincere look as a wife in turmoil over her husband’s behavior was excellent, and one teary shot in particular I think will always stay in my memory.

This film was officially selected for the 2002 Venice Film Festival and played at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and was the first film to be projected digitally in China.

:star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

The video on this 1.85:1 anamorphically enhanced image is very clean of any major distracting artefacts. The dim interiors of the Chinese homes and buildings use little light, and all detail seems to be preserved as best as possible. Colours are beautifully rendered in fleshtones and all of the vegetation on the landscape. Detail is also exceptional as we can see every drop of sweat on Ma Shan’s face throughout his ordeal. There are only a few specks of dirt on the print appearing every so often but never leads to any real distraction. Annoyingly there is edge enhancement present, and it’s very noticeable when people are standing against the bright skies as they walk down the roads…

AUDIO QUALITY :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

This is one exceptional soundtrack! I’m very impressed with how creative people overseas use the 5.1 setup. The soundtrack is always active offering at wide range of sound effects in all channels. This is one soundtrack that is never quiet! At one moment you will be immersed in the sounds of the insects chirping in the outdoors and then be taken in by the powerful sound of a thunderstorm with rain coming down hard. The surrounds play a very active role in this soundtrack and will never disappoint. There are a few moments when the surrounds are actually louder than the fronts.

SPECIAL FEATURES ZERO / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

There are no special features on this DVD other than the theatrical trailer for this film (in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 DD2.0), as well as previews for two other foreign films that actually look pretty good; I’d like to review them sometime. There is also an insert with poster work of the film but no chapter stop listing. Bummer.


The Missing Gun is a fun action flick without a lot of action, if that makes sense. Because the film successfully keeps you drawn into Shan’s ordeal it keeps its gripping feel without being too serious either. Overall, the video and the sound look great and I’m happy with the transfer. It’s worth checking out.

Michael Osadciw

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