The movie "The Third Squad," starring Zhang Yi, is adapted from a true story. What exactly is this story about?

The movie “Three Teams,” starring Zhang Yi, is adapted from a true story. It has also been adapted into a television series, starring Qin Hao, Li Naiwen, Chen Minghao, and others. What is the real story behind it?

The Unyielding Pursuit: A Non-Fiction Story of Dedication and Justice

The non-fiction work “Please Inform the Director, Task Force Three Has Completed Its Mission” by Shen Lan is the original prototype story.

In this non-fiction piece, the author appears to employ a “Spring and Autumn” style of writing, sketching the outline of the entire Task Force Three event while deliberately omitting key details. These missing details are particularly intriguing, leading to artistic embellishments in both film and television adaptations of “Task Force Three.”

The lack of details is attributed to the fact that the main subject, Cheng Bing, did not participate in any interviews. He did not provide specific details on how he captured Wang Eryong and was reluctant to discuss past events. Much of the content is narrated through Cheng Bing’s colleagues.

Key Information from “Please Inform the Director, Task Force Three Has Completed Its Mission”:

At 21, after graduating from the “Provincial Police School,” Cheng became a police officer. Starting from household registration and community policing, by 2002, his 16th year of service, he had accumulated extensive case handling experience.
On August 22, 2002, while on duty at the Criminal Investigation Brigade’s Task Force Three, I received a report that a girl in our jurisdiction had encountered trouble at home.
From the suspect’s method of entering the room by climbing through the window, he deduced that it was the work of a Sichuanese burglary gang.

The narrative reveals that the case started with a burglary, rape, and murder, not with an initial focus on the two criminal suspects as depicted in the TV series. The criminals entered the girl’s home because the police failed to apprehend them earlier.

Cheng Bing, a seasoned detective, knew the methods of interrogation well. When Wang Dayong was caught after another crime and beaten by relatives, he was taken directly to the police interrogation room. The interrogators wanted to extract Wang Eryong’s whereabouts from him, but Wang Dayong remained silent.

In the interrogation room, “certain methods” were employed. They were aware of the limits, but unfortunately, Wang Dayong died. An investigation followed; Wang Dayong, having no parents, had no one to claim his body.

The story narrates the eventual court ruling:

“Eventually, a verdict was reached. For causing death by intentional injury, five were sentenced: Team Leader Cheng received eight years, Xiao Liu five and a half years, Zhang Haizi three years and nine months, Lao Xu the most at twelve years. Those not criminally liable were also disciplined and ‘stripped of their uniforms.'” Zhang sighed helplessly, lighting another cigarette.
Deputy Director Yang, responsible for the bureau’s criminal investigation, resigned, followed by widespread document studies and disciplinary education within the bureau.

Cheng Bing spent eight years in prison, transitioning from a police officer to a prisoner, but never forgot his mission. Upon release, unlike the TV drama’s portrayal of neglect and unemployment, the Public Security Bureau, considering Cheng’s uniqueness, arranged a job for him in a security company under its jurisdiction, keeping him within the system for easier management. His skills were too formidable, and it was unimaginable if he strayed from the right path.

However, Cheng Bing was unwilling to take the job and was required to report to the bureau annually, informing them of his whereabouts and activities.

His report over the years indicated:

From 2009 to 2013, Cheng Bing reported to the community police of his registered residence that his work locations included Hunan, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guizhou, with a variety of jobs: night market vendor, porter, night taxi driver, courier, even internet cafe security and residential security guard.

His movements were actually a quest to find Wang Eryong, but he reported merely seeking freedom and casual employment.

During a stint in Guizhou as a water delivery man, the article mentions:

“Cheng Bing was talented. He convinced his boss that recording customers’ names and ages was for courteous phone conversations and noting their out-of-home times was to avoid delivering when no one was home. The boss believed him. After Wang Eryong’s capture, when we approached the boss for testimony, he said that during Cheng Bing’s nine months as a water delivery man, sales of bottled water increased by 50%,” said another colleague.
Finally, after nine months of diligent work, Cheng Bing successfully identified Wang Eryong and apprehended him.

Cheng Bing had the opportunity to call the police when he first spotted Wang Eryong but chose not to, as he had vowed to capture him personally.

The article describes a cinematic moment when Cheng Bing and Wang Eryong almost crossed paths. Over the years, Wang Eryong, constantly changing jobs and names, was difficult to track. Cheng Bing’s pursuit was like finding a needle in a haystack.

The article recounts:

The closest Cheng Bing came to Wang Eryong was when the latter worked as an air conditioner installer in a Chongqing service department. Having previously worked in air conditioner installation, Wang Eryong, skilled and hardworking, was offered a five-year contract by the company. He decided to leave, fearing exposure, on the very day Cheng Bing arrived following a lead.

In the end, Cheng Bing captured Wang Eryong, remembering his promise: “Please inform the director, Task Force Three has completed its mission.”

Fortunately, Cheng Bing was reunited with his wife and daughter, who remarried him, bringing a form of solace to his tumultuous journey.

Title: “The Long-Awaited Movie Inspired by the “Blood Petition” Movement is Here: Police Chase Down the Culprit for 12 Years to Seek Justice for the Girl”

“The Third Squad”: A Surprise Among the Top Three of the Year

With only half a month left, 2023 will soon be a thing of the past. Looking back at the year’s Chinese-language cinema, while there were high-quality works like “The Wandering Earth 2” and eye-catching films like “Changan 30,000 Miles” and “The Editorial Office of Space Exploration,” overall, it can be described as uninspiring. However, “The Third Squad” premiered at the end of the year, adding a colorful touch to an otherwise unremarkable year.

Without knowing the background of the film’s creation, upon seeing the title and the list of actors, my initial reaction was that it might be a crime-solving thriller similar to “Detective Chinatown.” However, the film’s content turned out to be quite different from my expectations.

“The Third Squad” boasts a highly skilled screenplay. After watching the movie, I read the original story titled “Please Inform the Director, The Third Squad’s Mission is Complete.” The story is very short, only a few hundred words, and can be read in a few minutes. However, screenwriter Zhang Ji expanded it into a complete, smooth, and tension-filled script. The script’s completeness is exceptional, and while watching the entire movie, I felt there were virtually no unnecessary elements. The only slightly offbeat moment was when the Third Squad’s five-member team busts a human trafficking den. However, considering that the second half of the film is generally intense, this scene helps to adjust the atmosphere and also emphasizes the five characters' connection to their former police identities. Overall, I can accept this subplot that deviates from the main storyline.

From the web series “Detective Chinatown” to “The Whistleblower 2” and now “The Third Squad,” it appears that director Dai Mo has gradually earned the appreciation and trust of Chen Sicheng. Regarding “The Third Squad,” I believe the director’s handling of the film is excellent, with a comfortable pace throughout, making it feel refined. The first half of the investigation process is tightly paced, enhanced by the constant appearance of clocks, creating a strong sense of urgency. The second half of the pursuit lacks major plot twists, but the director manages the balance well, and overall, it doesn’t feel monotonous.

I particularly liked the design in the film regarding the revelation of Wang Eryong’s true identity during the scene where Zhang Yi and Li Chen eat at a street stall. While the Third Squad investigates the suspects, the director hides the correct answer among several options and doesn’t provide an obvious clue like “choose the shortest one.” Instead, he adds some misdirection by quickly changing locations, increasing the confusion around the other answers. Therefore, when the correct answer is revealed at the street stall, it gives viewers a moment of sudden understanding that is both plausible and reasonable, much like when a teacher provides a subtle hint in school, and you suddenly know which answer to choose.

In the original story, because Captain Cheng Bing was unwilling to reveal his methods, the author did not write how he managed to find the needle in the haystack and lock onto the suspect. However, I think the film’s design in this regard is excellent, combining drama and plausibility without resorting to forced twists or overly coincidental moments.

Finally, I’d like to mention the character development, which I believe is the most outstanding aspect of the entire film. Every member of the Third Squad, including Old Zhang, who has limited screen time, has distinct and unique characteristics. However, the portrayal of Cheng Bing’s wife and daughter is relatively shallow, especially the daughter, whose emotional transitions appear abrupt, from childhood to post-prison and then to the farewell at the train station.

I really liked the scene where all members of the Third Squad chase down the culprit together. The other four who pursue the suspect alongside Captain Cheng Bing each have their own character arcs. They start with fiery determination and a sense of justice but eventually give up due to the passage of time and the torment of endless failures. They choose what they consider more important, including family, children, love, and life. These are common human emotions and things we, the general public, cannot abandon. So, when they one by one abandon and withdraw from this journey, I believe all viewers can understand their choices.

In reality, only Captain Cheng Bing continues to pursue the case. The jobs we see the others working in the film, as security guards, network administrators, and late-night food vendors, are the professions Cheng Bing once had. Compared to the film, the real world adds a layer of loneliness and sadness.

I think we can view the other four members of the Third Squad in the film as alternate versions of Captain Cheng Bing in the real world, each with fulfilling family lives, good health, and happiness. During the pursuit, Cheng Bing gives up family, love, health, and the opportunity to become another Cheng Bing. In the end, he becomes the lone Cheng Bing who chooses to die rather than give up. He becomes a martyr.

I also appreciate the film’s ending. It avoids being overly sentimental or overly elevated and simply lets a weathered, almost elderly man walk the path he has traveled over the years, slowly reuniting with the people he worked with all those years. In the end, he walks from the shadows into the sunlight, just like an ordinary passerby, basking in the sunshine. Before him lies an era of peace and prosperity, a time of tranquility.

The lead actor makes it quite challenging to avoid making this movie flat, as the tension just doesn’t seem to come through! I don’t know why, as everyone says he’s a good actor, but I feel like his performance lacks intensity and feels very flat. Hopefully, the other few actors can salvage it.