Lue Ren, Mystery Writer
Director Lian Yiqi’s Sweet Alibis (2014) stars Su Youpeng as veteran policeman Wang Zhiyi and actress Lin Yichen as rookie cop Gao Yiping. The national police commissioner’s daughter, Gao is ambitious and eager to prove herself in the world law enforcement. To ensure his daughter’s safety, however, the commissioner partners her with Wang Zhiyi, a man known for his cowardice – the young woman’s father believes his daughter will be safe as long as she’s in Wang’s company. Acting on his superior’s directives, Wang takes Gao Yiping out on a series of trivial cases. The first involves a dead dog, a seemingly harmless assignment. But as it turns out, the dog’s death is the first in a series of poisonings, the thread leading the partners deep into Kaohsiung’s illicit drug trade, where they ultimately uncover a string of murders.
Although Sweet Alibis is chockablock with corpses, it’s also full of black humor, not depending on bloodshed and horror for its appeal; although it’s a story of police in pursuit of a drug lord, there are few car chases or gun battles; although it’s a comedy, it’s doesn’t purposely set up cheap gags, relying instead on plot and atmosphere; although forensics and detection are not central to the picture, police work is realistic – scenes of the officers combing surveillance films for clues, digging through trashcans in search of evidence, and sketching out the suspect’s likely scope of operations are all true to life.
Prior to the release of Sweet Alibis, Taiwan had yet to produce a “detective” blockbuster. Publicists called the film a “cops-and-robbers comedy” without emphasizing its mystery aspects. Veteran Wang and rookie Gao make deductions based on the clues they’ve gathered, but both come up with completely different conclusions. The motive behind the serial killings is the film’s primary mystery, but what do the slayings have to do with the drug trafficker the police are chasing?
Sweet Alibis is Lian Yiqi’s second feature film, a follow-up to Makeup (2011). Screenwriting credits go to Yu Shangmin, who collaborated with Lian on Makeup, Chen Jiachen, a Taiwanese mystery novelist, and the director himself. The picture was filmed mostly in Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District, the tense final standoff shot at Kaohsiung Municipal Min-Sheng Hospital. The film’s theme song, “Heaven Is Watching,” is a remake of the theme of Taiwan Television’s Eye in the Sky (1979), a once popular police serial. Hei Bao recorded the original, while Su Youpeng, the film’s male lead, sang the remake, a tribute to crime dramas of an earlier era.
Film Sweet Alibis Trailer (Source: J. A. Productions)
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