When you think of “Asian cop movie about systemic corruption” you likely get a very specific image in your head: fast-paced, action-packed thrill rides that keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. That’s not totally fair, particularly since you’re probably mostly thinking of films from Hong Kong… but it’s more accurate than not. Maverick is different, though. This Taiwanese film is slow. It’s deliberate, almost (but not quite) to the point of being boring. It features many of the story beats you expect from a film of this sort, but instead of surrounding those moments with pulse-pounding brutality, there are conversations and even the occasional actual police investigation.
(There are a couple of action sequences as well, but they’re brief and fairly uneventful. Definitely well done, but there’s not much more to say about them.)
And because of all that, Maverick feels kind of like a breath of fresh air. This kind of cop drama exists in European (and American) cinema, but there is a cinematic sensibility to Taiwanese movies that I’ve really fallen for in the past couple of years, and what might feel played out in another American film comes off as unique. And this is one of the reasons I’m so enamored with foreign films. They say that there are only so many stories that can be told, right? I don’t think that’s true, but even if it was, different cultural takes on the same basic plotline effectively create an entirely new stories. (See: Taken and The Man From Nowhere, Dredd and The Raid, etc.)
Maverick isn’t perfect, and its pacing will put off some, but this is yet another corrupt cop movie that is absolutely worth your time.
[This review is being posted as part of our coverage of the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival, which is running in New York from June 22th through July 9th. Find out more information here and keep up with all our coveragehere.]
Director: Wen-tang Cheng