Story: Larry Lam (Louis Cheung) shows up on a crime scene too late and it's not the first time. The detective has his hands full trying to avoid a debt-collector from whom he borrowed money in order to set up a cat shelter. When he arrives at the crime scene, it turns out that the body is one of the thieves that robbed a jewelry store three months ago. The robbery has top priority for Chief Inspector Yip (Philip Keung) because an undercover agent and several innocent people lost their lives during the robbery. For Yip it is very quickly clear that the robbers committed the murder in order to be able to split the stolen goods between fewer people. Lam takes a parrot with him from the crime scene which belonged to the dead person, and he hopes to get some useful clues off of him. In the meantime, Sean Wong (Louis Koo), one of the robbers, is looking for his accomplices and wants to find out who is responsible for the murder. In addition, the murder victim also had the stolen goods with him, which have now disappeared. Wong hopes to be able to prove his innocence and to revenge his partner. Eventually, he catches Lam, who he immediately lets go again, even though he would have had the chance to kill him. Therefore, Lam starts to doubt that Wong and his partners are actually guilty. But who could be the real murderer? In fact, the parrot could be a crucial clue because it reacts in an unusual way when he encounters one suspect.
Review: During the marketing process of "A Witness Out of the Blue" there was a huge focus on the parrot. So, you could certainly expect an abstruse comedy or a thriller with a lot of black humor. But in fact, the movie proves to be a pretty classical crime movie centering around the hunt for a murderer. However, the movie also works with certain nuances which give it some peculiarities. For instance, the characters and the little things that happen around them, especially when it comes to Larry. But you shouldn't expect action. Even though there are some scenes in which we get to see a shootout, they are mostly pretty short. But this is by no means disappointing, because this detective film never really feels like an action movie. By the way, there is actually no outstanding twist in this movie, which could look rather unspectacular on paper. However, "A Witness out of the Blue" is in fact pretty entertaining.
You would think that Louis Koo ("The White Storm 2") plays the movie's protagonist. But in reality, it's Louis Cheung's ("Keeper of Darkness") cop who is this story's hero. He is a rather unusual detective. He is incredibly lazy - more important than showing up to work on time is going home not a minute later than necessary -, but then he takes the case more seriously than you would expect. The fact that he thinks outside the box is actually his strength. Therefore, the parrot also gives him some interesting clues, which otherwise nobody would have followed. Fortunately, the story around the bird never gets embarrassing, which easily could have become a problem. It is the right amount of everything, which makes this crime movie both gripping and funny without losing its focus. A fine line and a balancing act that not all directors know how to pull off.
The depicted world also gets a little bit more colorful because we get some nice peculiarities around the characters. For instance, the fact that Larry opens a cat shelter is actually not that relevant for the rest of the movie and normally you would have expected that to be different. Same goes for the plot around the debt-collector, it is just a nice little bonus and only exists to show us that Larry is an odd but also very loveable guy. So, we get a person you quickly have sympathy for, especially because he is anything but perfect. Wong, on the other hand, is a robber who has his code of honor. The way the character alternates between good and evil and everything in between is fascinating. On the one hand, he lends his landlord his support, or rather his fists, but on the other hand, he wants to help his partners, even though at least the dead guy was a murderer. Besides, he has no problem with ramming a woman's head against a hallway wall. The fact that Wong is not really a bad guy is rubbed in our faces every time he has the chance to eliminate our detective, but doesn't, which happens multiple times.
Especially with regard to the Chinese board of censors, these nuanced shades are very welcome, even though you might already have an idea how the entire thing turns out. Wong is also plagued by insomnia and images of ants, which is supposed to show his guilty conscience. In addition, there are some nice scenes with his landlord that show us that he is no monster, and that under normal circumstances, maybe even a relationship could have been possible here. Moreover, there are some supporting characters who add to the story a little bit and keep us speculating about who might be the murderer. In the end, the resolution is not really surprising, but disappointment does not ensue either. Instead, it's not the destination but rather the journey that is the reward in this movie and which manages to entertain us. In addition, the constant narrative shifts between the rather dark Wong and the odd guy Larry make for a nice change, and never lets any aspect of the movie get too strong.
There are some action scenes, but they are rather insignificant. Especially during the finale, you ask yourself whether this little shootout was actually necessary. "A Witness out of the Blue" is a crime movie that works with its characters, and that's its strength. However, this does not mean that the characters were written particularly deep, but they are interesting and make sure that we want to keep watching. Director Andrew Fung has a pretty unoriginal story as a basic framework, we've seen all of this before. But the furnishing of his building is pretty unusual at times and this creates the actual entertainment value. Of course, that's not enough to make for a great movie, it just lacks some exciting twists. But then again, the movie is able to score with its peculiarities and the fact that it manages to entertain us quite nicely with its characters. If director Andrew Fung were to build on that in the future, he could be able to create something really big.