Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beast Cops (Hong Kong 1998)

Considered a classic in Hong Kong cinema by many, Beast Cops is a decade late for this viewer, and I can honestly say I don't know what all the hype was/is about. Before I'm lampooned and the crosses are prepared to burn me in effigy, I hope you'll hear me out, because while it certainly had it's moments, it was still a bitter disappointment.

The story revolves around detective Tung (Anthony Wong), who isn't exactly the most by-the-books type of cop on the force. He gambles, frequents the burlesque clubs, and runs in a tight circle with a majority of the triad gangs around town, thus carrying a lot of clout within their ranks. Tung's days of doing as he pleases come to a stand-still when his new boss from the West, Mike Cheung (Michael Wong), comes into town with the heavy hand of discipline and his take-no-crap attitude. Mike has to find his new employee/partner at the aforementioned nightclub, where he runs into madame Yoyo (Candy Lo), who Mike is immediately taken with. Little does Mike realize, Yoyo is the girlfriend of Brother Fai (Roy Cheung), head of one of the largest triad gangs in the area. Tung wastes no time trying to buddy up to his new boss by kissing as much butt as possible, even going so far as to offer him a room in his apartment, which he shares with a younger member of the force; Sam (Sam Lee). Trouble begins when Brother Fai orders a hit on a leader of another triad gang, and when the mainland assassin is killed during his escape, he manages to let the police in on the fact that was indeed Brother Fai who ordered the hit. With no time to lose, Brother Fai is on the run from the police, deciding it's best to flee the country for awhile, with or without Yoyo by his side. Turns out Yoyo takes way too long to get ready for a getaway, thus leaving Brother Fai's understudy Pushy Pin (Patrick Tam) to move in on his woman and take over as the new "Big Brother". Yoyo isn't giving Pushy Pin the time of day, preferring to stick with Mike and trying to clean up her life of prostitution by staying on the straight and narrow. As you can imagine, this creates tension with Pushy Pin, because he's a spoiled brat who realizes he can't get everything he wants. Tung is also upset with Pushy, as his recklessness as a leader is destroying the order that Brother Fai had worked so hard to maintain within the gang. When Brother Fai finally returns to Hong Kong to put Pushy Pin in check, things finally spark out of control, starting a series of events that had been building from the beginning.

I realize that last sentence of the previous paragraph was a tad bit vague, but I really don't want to ruin the ending for you, and I promise to keep my reviews as "spoiler-free" as possible. After reading the synopsis of Beast Cops, you might be under the impression that it has a pretty good plot and some nice opportunities for tense, action-filled moments. However, you wouldn't be completely accurate in those thoughts. I hate to blast on this movie, mainly due to the fact that everyone seems to love it, but I have to be truthful; Beast Cops is a really boring, sub-par movie. With a running time of around one hour and forty-five minutes, the movie really doesn't do anything until the one hour, thirty minute mark. There were so many times director Gordon Lam could have inserted something to spice up a scene. It's a lot of BS dialogue between Mike and Tung, and sometimes a comic-relief moment from the anorexic Sam. When the action finally hits at the very climax of the film, it's all about Tung, machetes and broken bottles, but it's also completely over-the-top and unfitting of Anthony Wong's character the story has been showing us for the previous ninety minutes. I know a lot of people thought the final action scene with Tung going ballistic (minor spoiler?) was amazing and true to the Anthony Wong style of things, but for me, it just didn't fit with the style of the movie, or the character of Tung. Michael Wong wasn't as terrible as he is in just about every other movie I've seen him in, possibly because he spoke more Cantonese than English, but he'll always be a B grade actor in my eyes. The best acting in the film would have to be from Patrick Tam as Pushy Pin. Retarded name aside, he showed the most range and believability in his character and you will genuinely hate him by the end of the film.

I know that I'm in the minority with my feelings on Beast Cops, and I can honestly say that I was surprised by not enjoying it more than I did. Hong Kong cinema fans seem to love it for reasons that are apparently beyond my realm of understanding. I walked away feeling more disappointed than anything else, but I also realized that we can't all like the same stuff. Saying that one mans trash is another mans treasure would probably be going too far, but just barely. (Lee)

Buy Beast Cops on VCD at YESASIA!

No comments: