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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Buddy Cops is so outlandish it’s almost enjoyable

Farcical, anarchic, boorish, full of exaggerated acting and ridiculous dialogue, Buddy Cops features an ensemble cast of TVB regulars more used to bland melodrama but who go rogue with brio

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 6:27pm

3/5 stars

Completed in 2012 but uncharacteristically shelved until now, this TVB-presented Hong Kong-China co-production is so outlandishly ill-mannered it’s mildly fascinating. Buddy Cops features a range of TVB regulars – from Bosco Wong Chung-chak and King Kong Lee Hsin-chiao to Eric Tsang Chi-wai, who also acted as producer; it is as if the group has gone rogue together for a distinctly family-unfriendly movie scattered with bad language, psychotic characters and masturbation jokes.

After the hot-tempered police detective Fei (Wong) messes up yet another operation, he is transferred to a fictional department that houses all the useless staff the force couldn’t sack. There he finds a new enemy in the mild-mannered desk officer Johnny (Lee), who loathes Fei’s disregard for discipline. But when Fei’s father (Stanley Fung Shui-fan) and Johnny’s mother (Elaine Jin Yan-ling) coincidentally become an item, the new brothers must somehow learn to cohabit under the same roof.

That’s the framework in which Buddy Cops’ main narrative intrigue plays out, centred on Fei’s attempt to avenge a buddy murdered by people loyal to Hung (Lam Ka-tung), an influential philanthropist who may also be a criminal mastermind. The movie then switches to full-on anarchy mode: Charmaine Fong Ho-man is lunacy personified as Fei’s terrorising ex, while Kate Tsui Tsz-shan hams it up as a bucktoothed loner who could help Johnny crack the case.

Although audiences used to seeing this cast in TVB’s bland melodramas will be startled by the film’s daring gibes about the Hong Kong government and China’s hold over the consumer sector, and perhaps also by its references to Japanese porn culture, the real surprise is the reckless abandon with which the actors throw themselves into the frankly ridiculous dialogue. Buddy Cops is not a good movie by any means – although, for some people, its utter boorishness may well end up proving to be its charm.

Buddy Cops opens on April 21

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