Originally written in 2003, this review was one of my (Josh) first stabs at writing. There has only been some slight editing and revisions done here in 2010. If you think the review is bad as of now, I’m just glad you didn’t read it before the edits.

Plot Outline: Police officer Tung walks a thin line between police officer and triad brother. He commits crimes and seems to turn his head the other way for his Triad friends. When the head of the triads Wah, helps in a messy assassination attempt he is forced to leave HK until things cool off. His brother, Pushy-pin, is left in charge. At the same time Tung gets a new chief, Mike Wong. Wong isn’t used to the dirty way things are handled and starts trying to change things. He begins dating the triad boss’ ex-girlfriend and makes an enemy out of Pushy-Pin. Pushy-Pin’s ego soon gets the better of him and the only two who stand in his way are Tung and Wong.


The Review: Appearances sure can be deceiving. Such is the case with Beast Cops. The first ten minutes of the film gave me the total wrong impression of what it would ultimately turn out to be. Those first ten minutes are just spectacular in my opinion. Everything is laid out so perfectly for what I was expecting. We’re introduced to a cop who’s more triad than law enforcer and we watch as a assassination goes awry. From the way things were heading I was expecting a gritty and stylish cop drama, sprinkled with a little HK humor to round everything off. Instead, everything afterward kind of goes in a totally opposite direction. We move away from the gritty streets of Hong Kong and focus more on the personal lives of the three cops; Wong, Tung and Lam. We also move far away from the serious tones of the beginning and we almost begin to tread into buddy-cop territory. You may be thinking this sounds like a really uneven film, and you most certainly are right, but for some reason the good always towers over the bad and the film is just incredibly fun to watch.

The cast in the film are all great, even the much criticized and hated Michael Wong doesn’t come off looking too bad. Although I wish he wouldn’t speak so much English. Even when he does, particularly after being beat down, it doesn’t come out sounding too incredibly stupid. I really liked Kathy Chau in the film, her ex/hooker with a heart of gold role didn’t come off looking too simple, and she was just a lot of fun to watch. She’s so darn cute! She has a Karen Mok kind of thing going on in the film. I didn’t really mention Sam Lee’s character in the plot outline, because he doesn’t really ever factor into the plot all that much. His character doesn’t ever really have much to do. In a normal film I imagine he would be the character played for comic relief, but since Anthony Wong and Michael Wong already have the whole good cop/bad cop humor aspect covered there’s nothing much Sam is left with, other than the fact that he’s a very unlikely ladies man. Still, he’s fun to watch as with the rest of the cast.

Anyway, my biggest beef with the film would be the action. I wasn’t expecting gunplay really, and I know knife fights can look really cool if in the right hands, but with the exception of the final battle everything here is quite tame. The fist fights in the film come off looking staged and don’t seem to have any ferociousness to them. In one scene Anthony Wong’s character is on a bus with a couple of thugs who robbed a store, and he begins fighting with one of them in the middle of the isle. He grabs one of them and begins elbowing him in the chest, now this is exactly what I didn’t like about the film. If they wanted to incorporate martial arts into the fighting they could have at least gave them some space to use it, but if they were going for a more realistic approach to the fighting I would have preferred more punches, grapples or kicks while someone is on the ground. Kind of a Kitano approach. Here the fighting doesn’t look real in the least and almost seems to take a comical approach to the fight scenes. Anthony Wong, as big of a guy as he is, just doesn’t look like he’s beating this guy down. He looks like he’s slapping him with his forearm or something. I personally would have liked to see a grittier no holds barred take on the fight scenes, but you take what you can get, and in the end the action is elevated by a very cool and exceptionally brutal finale.

The action doesn’t get much faster in this final confrontation, but man does it get brutal. Machetes seem to be the weapon of choice among the young triad goons and they put them to good use on poor Anthony Wong who seems to just walk through them. I won’t spoil much, but the climax comes from left field. Throughout the film there’s quite a bit of violence spread out, but this ending is just something to behold. It’s hilarious and over the top and shows how to end an action film. The grit from the beginning of the film comes back with a true force, and kind of reminds the viewer what the film could have been if it would have stayed focused. Still, as I’ve said it’s a hard film not to enjoy.

The Conclusion
It’s not Friedkin, Lumet, Lam or even Woo, but it finds it’s own place and it’s the kind of film you’ll either enjoy or you won’t. If you can just take it as nothing but an action comedy you should be happy, but if you set yourself up with high expectations then you may end up let down.

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