DUST TO DUST (第八个嫌疑人) (2023)

Genre: Drama/Crime
Director: Jonathan Li
Cast: Da Peng, Lam Ka-tung, Zhang Songwen, Qi Xi, Sunny Sun
Runtime: 1 hr 52 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website:

Opening Day: 28 September 2023

Synopsis:  In 1995, a large armed robbery occurred in Guangdong. A bank cash truck was robbed by five armed robbers, causing a loss of $15 million and three bank's escorts were killed. The incident shocked the whole country, the Police immediately set up a task force, led by Wang Shouyue (played by Lam Ka Tung) and He Lan (played by Zhang Songwen), and quickly found the whereabouts of the five robbers, except the real mastermind behind the case, the owner of a construction company, Chen Xinwen (played by Da Peng), and his cousin Chen Xinnian (played by Sun Yang). Chen Xinwen and Chen Xinnian embarked on the road to escape, and has since evaporated. Twenty-one years later, the case has long faded from the public, and Wang Shouyue also retired. However, a usual video with a blurred figure rekindled his hope of solving the case. He went to the border city to look for the "stranger" in the video. The final showdown between good and evil begins after twenty-one years.

Movie Review:

Thanks to movie adaptations, we get to see how true life first class heists were planned and executed. While the law breakers may not look anything like the actors who play them in the movies, it does give us a glimpse of what those characters’ personalities were like, given how the actors might have done some research while portraying the characters, or were under the good direction of the filmmaker. This Chinese crime thriller based on a cash robbery that took place in a Guangdong province in 1995 is a competent production that sheds light on the incident that made the headlines almost three decades ago.

Five daring armed men robbed a van and escaped with 15 million RMB, making this the biggest heist in Chinese history. There are some fatalities in the process and the bad guys manage to escape, but not for long. They are captured one by one, but two particular individuals, Chen Xinwen (Da Peng) and his younger cousin Chen Xinnian (Sunny Sun) remain unfound. This pisses Wang Shouyue (Lam Ka Tung) off, because one of his compatriots died during the hunt for the robbers.

The movie would have been a straightforward thriller if not for the fact that someone resembling one of the missing men suddenly shows up in a publicly televised clip. This sends the retired Wang into action, determined to make the two unfound bandits pay for their crime.

The movie directed by Jonathan Li takes a creative approach with the storytelling, as the incidents unfold in a non linear manner. You first see a wide shot of a man being hit with a rock at a mine, then you see Wang showing up at a store located in a Yunnan province claiming to be the owner’s old friend. Then you go back in time to the 1990s (you can tell from the looks of the character and their backgrounds, thanks to a good job done by the art department), where the owner of a construction company is haughtily showing off his assets and dealing in some shady businesses.

As the 112 minute movie progresses, you also realise that this isn’t just about Wang’s manhunt. It is a well developed human drama about how the three men’s lives have changed due to the robbery, and what have become of them almost 30 years later.

Da Peng, a variety show host and actor from China, delivers a very committed performance as the older Chen. You first see him as an extremely dislikeable character (he is crass, loud and a total jerk), then witness his fear when he became a fugitive, before he settles down and becomes a mellowed family man. While his body transformation is not as drastic as Christian Bale’s, it is a believable one that complements his character development and good acting. He was recognised with the Best Actor prize at this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival. His co star is the ever reliable Lam from Hong Kong, and he delivers an intensely good performance as well. As the younger Chen, Sun has less screen time but leaves an impression as well.

As a crime thriller, this movie may not have non stop car chases and gun fights to keep your adrenaline running, but there is a solid human drama that is well worth your time.

Movie Rating:


(A solid performance from Da Peng makes this crime thriller an engaging human drama)

Review by John Li

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