The Abandoned is a 2023 Taiwanese crime thriller that begins on New Year’s Eve, with the main character, a grief-stricken cop named Wu Jie holding a gun at her throat in the driver’s seat of a car. The Abandoned is an interwoven tale of grief, migrant laborers, and a serial killer murder mystery. Wu Jie abandons her suicide attempt when a flustered young girl bangs at her window in absolute torment. Wu Jie then discovers a corpse in a ditch nearby, automatically taking on the case and stepping into her role as detective. As these things usually go, she’s then assigned a babyface rookie cop as an assistant to solve this complicated case of the terrifying murder of a missing illegal Thai laborer.
What Happens In The Film?
Through flashbacks, we learn that Wu Jie used to have a partner who killed himself in the same car that she drives around now and attempted to kill herself in. As the film progresses, it is made clear that this was a romantic relationship, and they were even engaged. Wu Jie hasn’t dealt with his death yet and isn’t willing to take a break from work either. Of course, she thinks it’s the perfect distraction to keep her from falling apart, although she did try to kill herself. It seems the case has now inspired her to keep going. On the other hand, there is rookie cop Wei Shan, who is awkward and meek in demeanor. Despite wanting to be transferred, Wu is tasked with showing her the ropes. Elsewhere, a man named Yu is going about his day as usual; however, something sinister is coming for him soon.
The woman who died was named Waree Napho, a Thai immigrant laborer working illegally. Her corpse is missing her heart and the left ring finger. The coroner believes this has something to do with the Latin term vena amoris, which simply translates to the vein of love. This could be an act of revenge or some sort of lover’s quarrel gone seriously wrong. Elsewhere, Saipin, Waree’s sister, is out looking for her and finds Yu. Yu happens to be the guy who helps migrant workers in Taiwan. However, he’s also the guy Waree was seeing. Saipin is worried about her sister and knows no one else who can help her. Waree hasn’t reached out to her in a week, leaving her worried and sick. It turns out she had also broken up with Yu, not having reached out to him for the same amount of time. At first, we’re made to think that this might be Yu’s doing as an act of revenge, but soon we realize he actually did like Waree and did intend to help people.
Wu has been sleeping in the same car with the bullet hole in it since her partner died. She’s woken up when a fake bomb is found at a telephone booth, leading them to a man named Mankong. After interrogating Yu, who identifies Waree’s body at the station, Wu comes to believe he’s not their guy. On the other hand, Yu is also attempting to help Saipin the way he did Waree, but she gets a call from another friend saying she should be wary of him. Wu decides to follow Yu and see what he does next after leaving the station. It turns out he had helped Mankong as well, and seeing his picture at the station, Yu goes to find him for answers. Mankong admits that he knew Waree was dead but that he had nothing to do with it. He simply wanted to send her body back home because of the terrible fate she met. He tells Yu that his boss made him hide the body, and Yu believes him because of something we discover later.
Mankong tries to make a run for it, but Yu follows him, which leads to the cops coming out of hiding, too. Wu and Wei are both incapable of catching either of the boys, but Yu manages to get a hold of Mankong, while Wu tries to threaten them with Wei’s gun. They then try to handcuff him, but in the chaos of it all, Mankong grabs the gun Wu’s been using and ends up killing himself out of guilt and fear (unnecessary move, brother). This obviously puts Wu in a very difficult position because not only has she seen the death of this man in the same fashion as her partner, but someone has died on her watch using Wei’s gun, making her a terrible detective. Still, she fights for her position and tells the captain that he’s the reason she’s here at all; after this case, she’ll be leaving him for good.
This is when Yu reveals the body of another immigrant woman, Yeti Ayuni. He was also forced to hide it in a similar manner as Mankong was. She also has the same markings as Waree, proving that this is the work of a serial killer. Wu and Yu realize that he’s the common link between the two women, as he’s the guy who helped them both in Taiwan. This means that anybody else who is associated with him could be the killer. There’s a cab driver who helps Yu, and he’s the first suspect, according to Wu, but they quickly realize that he’s not their guy because Saipin had made a dent in his cab by hitting it from the outside in frustration, whereas the cab they’re looking for doesn’t have such a dent, as they’ve seen in CCTV footage.
Who Is The Murderer?
This is when Yu realizes that it is the photographer who helps him out with fake IDs for the immigrants, Fan Chang-Fu. Chang-Fu used to be married to (presumably) an Indonesian woman, with whom he was deeply in love. On one of his birthdays, she stole her wedding ring and left him for good. He discovered the empty box too late, leaving him devastated. This made him detest immigrant women, thinking they were all in the country to steal from men like himself. This is probably why he cuts off their ring finger and removes their heart, as a sign that they can’t love or be loved anymore. Considering his wife, the person who was meant to be with him through thick and thin, left him, Chang-Fu decided to keep the hearts and fingers of the women as a sign that they could never abandon him. I suppose there are parallels between Wu and Chang-Fu there, too, because she was also, in a way, abandoned by the love of her life, but they both dealt with it in very different ways, to say the least. Unfortunately, Yu was basically supplying him with girls to murder without even realizing it. In the present day, Chang-Fu tries to celebrate Saipin’s birthday with her for a poetic farewell, similar to how his love left him.
What Happens To Wei?
Wei tries to call for backup as soon as they figure out who killed Waree. In the meantime, Chang-Fu tries to escape, but Yu blocks him with his car. Chang-Fu gets out with a knife in his hand, and Wei comes in the way, so he can’t escape. She gets stabbed in the chest by him, but fortunately, Yu is able to take her to the hospital in time and save her life. The mark of a rookie expert, one could say. At the end of The Abandoned, we see her enjoying a video game while chit-chatting with Wu, showing that they’ve become closer than ever and will probably continue working together after she completely recovers.
Is Wu Okay?
Wu takes Chang-Fu back to the place where he did all his dirty work. She wants to know what he’s done and how many people he’s killed, and it would also make it easy for backup to find them. In the meantime, Yu discovers the preserved hearts and fingers of many women on the top floor of the building. Yu begins to cry and scream out, so Wu makes her way there with a handcuffed Chang-Fu. The artist that Chang-Fu is, he’s taken self-portraits holding frames of each of the women with their hearts and fingers as decoration in the background (blegh). The numbers are too high, and Yu is infuriated by the site, so he tries to kill Chang-Fu. Wu shoots Yu in the knee because she needs Chang-Fu to find Saipin, alive or dead.
Ultimately, Chang-Fu leads Wu to the building where Saipin is locked up. He needs to open a door for her, but before she can enter, he tries to shut it on her fingers, leaving her in terrible pain. She just manages to make it; however, this is simply the beginning of her pain. Chang-Fu holds a sharp object at Saipin’s throat, threatening to kill her. He makes Wu throw away her gun in an attempt to escape. She somehow manages to catch him, but he’s much stronger and almost chokes her to death, until she finds her gun and shoots him in the chest. During this time, the room is slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide. There’s a password for the door, but just as he’s taking his last breath, Chang-Fu claims he’s forgotten the password. Of course, he simply doesn’t want her or Saipin to escape.
Wu is reminded of her partner, Chen-Kuo. Wu blamed herself for his depression, but at this moment, it seems like she’s finally realized she had nothing to do with it. She’s reminded of the conversation they had after he proposed to her, telling her that they should keep “living.” With the thought of all the things she is left to discover, Wu is determined to escape with Saipin by her side. She finds a cylinder nearby and breaks the glass of the door with great difficulty. She then picks up Saipin and brings her to the opening of the door, so she can wake up. Wu prays for her to open her eyes, and ultimately, she does.
A week later, Wu finally says goodbye to Chen-Kuo by leaving the car to be crushed for good. She’s adopted Chang-Fu’s dog, you know, to help with all the sorrow. She’s finally able to breathe properly; this case showed her the difference between obsession and love. Yu apologizes to Saipin, handing over Waree’s ashes to her. The Abandoned ends with a happy conversation between Wu and Wei, showing us how they’re all on the healing curve, both physically and mentally.