Review: The Making of Crime Scenes

Directed by Che-Yu Hsu, a film producer, an assassin, and a patriot. These aren’t three characters in this film but three ways of describing Wu Dun, a member of the United Bamboo Gang who murdered the Taiwanese-American writer Henry Liu and became a producer of wuxia films.

If you’re searching for a documentary subject, you can’t really go wrong with a former gangster turned filmmaker who orchestrated a famous assassination. It’s both a huge asset and a weakness to The Making of Crime Scenes because the concept in itself is fantastic but the execution leaves a lot unanswered. It’s such a complicated and fascinating evolution of Wu Dun’s life, to the point of being almost unbelievable, that it can’t really be done justice in twenty minutes. The pieces are there and they’re explored in a creative manner, employing crime scene technology is a well-suited and clever way to approach the story. It’s just a shame there isn’t enough time to bring it all together.

The way that the story moves feels spontaneous rather than a flowing development, jumping around to different times and struggling to create a more easily followable path. It’s an example of a film that going in completely blind would be a disadvantage, it needs at least a little context to get its point across. The pacing also feels erratic, it has a loose quality rather than being consistent, the narration comes in and out, feeding you pieces at a time. It doesn’t feel like the most effective choice, there was potentially time to give additional detail to this story.

However, the visual quality and style to the direction is a very interesting mix. Starting out diving into the crime scene technology creates a strong level of intrigue and plants the seedier side to the film. When it then moves into the filmmaking side of things, there’s a real independent spirit, it becomes more personal and switches from a still, conservative form to a handheld, in the moment shooting style. Aesthetically it feels as though it does much better justice to the story it’s trying to tell, it just needed the narration to back it up more strongly.

The Making of Crime Scenes has a fantastic concept and chooses a creative method to explore it but it just can’t fit enough of the story into its runtime to do it justice. There’s a lot of different styles at work with Che-Yu Hsu’s direction, which is a charming combination and works really well with the different thematic elements to the story. There’s an intriguing and engaging foundation but it needed further exploration.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

Reviewed as part of Open City Documentary Festival 2022

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