Thomas Ringdal’s review published on Letterboxd:
A detective refuses to let go of a case, long after it's become cold, to the extent he is forced to leave his job to get his final chance to uncover the truth about what happened when several dismembered bodies were found in coal plants around the country five years ago.
At times, Black Coal is a bit incoherent, and some events that seemed pretty major to me are left unexplored further. Takes a que from Korean cinema and adds some brilliant moments of comedy in an otherwise pretty bleak story, as well as some oddities that seem more at home in a Hal Hartley (or Claire Denis if you will, yes I'm referring to dancing) film than a Chinese noir.
As for noir elements, there's people down on their luck, femmes not to be trusted, abuse of alcohol, alienation and the cinematography is a high point.
The pace might have been just a tiny bit too fast for me, and it doesn't help much that you as the audience are left putting a lot of the pieces together by yourself, but it had a vibe I connected with, as I tend to to with noirs, and an ending so completely out of the blue yet at the same time in tact with the rest of the film I just had to smile. Plus, the female lead looks like what I'd imagine Judy Greer would have, if she'd been Chinese. That kind of distracted me on more than one occasion. A film that will benefit further upon rewatch, preferably not at 10 in the morning in a foreign country.