By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Available to order on Amazon USA or stream on YouTube or Google Play
The bigger mystery concerning Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape lay in whether Hong Kong-based writer and directors Matthew Chow and Toe Yuen knew of the animated anthropomorphic take made many decades ago. Sherlock Hound featured everything I loved about this famous detective as a caring humanitarian. This series had a charm which I adored. The theme song from the localized French television broadcast had lyrics to which I still remember to this day.
It’s rare to transform the sleuth into a canine again, and I suspect Chow and Yuen knew what they were doing. They didn’t bank on everyone knowing the previous work. The character designs of other figures are similar enough, and what’s done art-wise was a change on costumes to avoid law-suits. Plus, a few moments may have been copied from the original. I’d have to search the episodes to verify, but I’m sure I saw this film’s bicycle chase before!
One seeming antagonist in this film is Mack (White Storm). He’s a Robin Hood figure and the public loves him. When Holmes catches up to him, he finds he has a daughter, Katie, and has a moral dilemma to either issue an arrest or let him go. The people shame the detective. Four years later, the thief escapes and this sleuth is back on the case! The P.I. has to find where he went and why he allied with Scarface, another prisoner.
Curiously, Doctor Watson is a cat in this take. He’s a dilettante, and this interpretation doesn’t work. The choice to vary the world up is not unusual, especially if the studio RAI and Tokyo Movie Shinsha, creators of the television series, learn of this product and decide to sue.
The dynamics just doesn’t work in this new take. I had to backtrack like Holmes to pick up the pieces on what is good. It’s nice to see this detective and Mack reconcile though. They team up to deal with the real threat. At least the writing is solid; The themes concerning social justice and prison reform are perfect for an older viewer to think about. For a child who loves puppies, they won’t get it. There’s even consideration of the class system which made Victorian age London a bit stuffy.
The world these creators made also felt familiar. They may have borrowed from Zootopia just to show how cosmopolitan London has become. It didn’t help keep my interest though, as all I had was that French tune and fond memories of the previous version stuck in my head. My money is still on the classic I discovered on CBC’s French Channel from many years ago!