The Missing Gun
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Now available in DVD, "The Missing Gun" tells the
story of a small town Chinese cop who loses his gun. As with other neorealist
films coming out of
Policeman Ma Shen (Wen Jiang) has woken up with a
bad hangover and the frightening realization that he can't find his service
The film is structured around his pursuit of some leads turned up at the wedding party for his sister the night before, where his gun was last seen. After drinking himself into a stupor, the gun was snatched from him.
One can easily understand why Ma Shen would drink himself into oblivion. His life does not offer too much. His wife constantly berates him for being a lousy husband and father to their young son, who is the brat of the century. When his wife and son come to visit him after he has been jailed, the son practically gloats over his loss of freedom and warns him that he should not interfere with his right to watch television if he is released. As with practically everything that comes his way, Ma Shen reacts to his son's taunts impassively.
Indeed, the only thing that seems to stir him is the mission
to regain his weapon. Although traditional values seem to be disappearing
The cops are typical products of the new
The symbol of the New China is Zhou Xiaogang (Shi Liang), who runs an illegal liquor factory. Zhou drives around in a fancy Japanese sedan and wears Italian designer suits. When Ma Shen grabs him by the lapels to extract information, Zhou cries out "Italian, Italian!"
Director Chuan Lu makes the most of on-location settings of labyrinthine alleys and empty plazas that evoke De Chirico paintings. He also uses the surrounding mountainous countryside to great effect. One scene involves a mad bicycle chase between Ma Shen and a fleeing criminal (who might have stolen his gun) across a Chinese countryside that is as beautiful despite its sense of desolation.
"The Missing Gun" is an interesting look at