Thunder Cop

Reviewed by YTSL

In ““Sex and Zen” & “A Bullet in the Head””, Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins wrote that:  “Director Clarence Ford (Fok Yiu-Leung) makes films noted for their wonderful visual style and nonlinear plotting.  Sometimes, frankly, it’s hard to tell just what the hell is going on.  But Clarence has a pleasant habit of putting Carrie Ng in his movies, and that’s not all bad” (1996:163-164).

The above assessment could serve as a generous summation of THUNDER COP:  The 1996 jumble of an action film with which Clarence Ford chose to announce his return, after a few years away, to the Hong Kong movie-making scene.  Unfortunately, despite her second billing (at least in the English language cast list), Carrie Ng’s is but a largely extraneous as well as subsidiary role.  Granted that I have a biased perspective (which is evidenced by my primary reason for wanting to view this contemporary actioneer being that Ms. Ng is in it).  Still, it seems a travesty to me to have this real life sizzler -- Just check out the photo of her picking up the Best Supporting Actress award at the year 2000 HKFA ceremony! -- as well as thoroughly capable and game actress being reduced to playing a woman who tries to be sexually attractive but is perceived as too old and low class to be so.

I’d love to think that the local audience agreed with me on this matter.  The odds are high though that there are other reasons why THUNDER COP only had a four day run in local cinemas and grossed but a paltry HK$428,375 at the box office.  This is not least since the movie -- whose main character is a well-meaning but hot-headed young policeman (Ng Chi Lone is played by the boyish looking Nicky Wu) who accidentally gets involved with a Triad chief (Chiu Kwok Ho comes in the form of a stylishly attired Winston Chao) whose nefarious colleagues are not too happy with his plans to withdraw from their underworld and immigrate to Canada with his girlfriend (Rene Lau is the homely but sweet Lau Mei Ying) -- is the kind of all-over-the-place and confused -- nonsensical even -- mish-mash movie that I’ve come to expect from the director of “The Black Panther Warriors” and “Cheap Killers”.

One illustration re these problematic aspects of THUNDER COP comes by way of the movie’s too ambitiously taking its viewers from Taiwan to Hong Kong to Chang Chun (in Mainland China?) and back to Hong Kong before it reached the ten minute mark.  Another measure of the offering’s disordered nature is that even after having watched the entire film, I am unsure whether the incident-filled opening scenes consisted of flashbacks for the movie’s childish but honorable police protagonist or its more adult and arguably more honorable “good gangster” figure.  Even the most well filmed -- or, at least, best looking, attractively choreographed and well enacted -- portions of a movie which also has elements of broad comedy and melodramatic tragedy end up contributing to making the production feel stupidly illogical since they imbue otherwise quite average individuals with fighting abilities of the kind that ought to rightfully only be possessed by fantastic kungfu masters, superheroes or gods with guns.

Watching THUNDER COP, this (re)viewer can hardly believe that this mediocre effort was directed by the same man who helmed “Ice Man Cometh” as well as made such good use of Carrie Ng’s talents in “Naked Killer” and “Remains of a Woman” (The latter of which earned this able actress a Golden Horse Best Actress award).  Although it is true that audiences can sometimes be un(der)appreciative of cinematic gems, this is one of those times when I reckon that those who stayed away from Clarence Ford’s “come back” attempt were the ones who knew what they were doing.

My rating for the film:  5