Rock N' Roll Cop
Most of the time, this film feels like it’s in
constant motion – a set of moving pieces. Either the actors are on the
move or the camera is veering about – rarely at stop. It makes for a hyperactive
and nearly exhausting film experience. Those few moments of rest – usually
involving musical interludes – take on an almost mystical and calming effect.
Director Kirk Wong enjoys pushing the intensity buttons within films and
getting the adrenaline going. His films generally revolve around cops and
bad guys in fare such as Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, Gunmen and Crime
Story. In Crime Story – he took Jackie Chan into entirely new territory
and created one of Jackie’s most gritty and emotionally charged films.
In particular, Wong seems to be fascinated by
the chase – following the police in their relentless and often ruthless
efforts to track down the criminals. Some of these scenes in Rock N’ Roll
Cop are brilliantly choreographed and often on a large scale whether it
is following a suspect all over the city or frantically pursuing the bad
guys in a torrent of gunfire. Often the camera is pulled back to allow
the viewer to gain a wide-angle perspective on all the activity that is
taking place. To some degree though this is detrimental to the emotional
pull of the film as Kirk Wong seems so caught up in the mechanics of the
chase that he neglects to flesh out the characters much beyond basic stereotypes.
The bad guys are irredeemably evil, the women have questionable morals
but essentially good hearts and the cops are driven by their need to uphold
the law. Within the constrictions of these roles though, the actors do
a fine job, are quite believable and Carrie Ng in particular is excellent
and the emotional core of the film.
The Red Scarf gang – headed by Yu Rong Guang –
robs a mahjong parlor in HK and kills a number of the patrons before escaping
back to the Mainland. HK policeman, Anthony Wong, is assigned to work with
the Mainland cops to capture this gang. The contrast that Kirk Wong paints
between the Mainland cop’s methods – headed by Wu Xing-Guo (Green Snake,
What Price Survival) – as opposed to Anthony’s methods is stark and overall
very favorable to the Mainland. The Mainland cops are stolid and totally
focused while Anthony is casual and undisciplined. The Mainland cops are
able to mobilize a veritable army of police and informers to track the
gang down and also utilize surveillance cameras everywhere to watch events
unfold. Kirk Wong seemingly endorses this nearly “Big Brother” approach,
but I found the scene in which the police effortlessly follow Carrie Ng
– girlfriend of Yu Rong Guang and ex- girlfriend of Wu – through cameras,
eavesdropping and informers as terrifying as the gang was. Kirk though
seems fascinated by this. Still, it is the HK cop who has no qualms about
trespassing on individual liberties, while the Mainland cops always follow
the letter of the law in obtaining warrants and such.
Eventually of course Anthony Wong and Wu Xing-Guo
begin to bond in their common desire to dispatch justice – and Wong even
sides with the Mainland police in a dispute regarding jurisdiction of a
prisoner - leading him to be branded a “traitor” by the HK police.
Only when Wong enters into this alliance with the Mainland cops is he shown
to be a good cop - while the rest of the HK police force comes off
as small minded and incompetent. Was Kirk Wong directing this film with
an eye towards 1997? In the end though Wu, possibly speaking for Kirk,
states, “for us there are no political boundaries. We are cops and we catch
crooks and that’s all that matters”. One has to wonder though if Kirk’s
preference would be a tightly controlled and highly supervised society
at the expense of personal liberties.
The film has a large dose of melodrama mixed in
with the action (of which there is a fair but not overwhelming amount directed
by Bruce Law) and some of the melodrama is effective but some of it is
ludicrous. Anthony begins to fall for a singer who knew one of the gang
and their budding relationship plays out very nicely and gently when Anthony
accompanies her on the guitar at her audition for her big break. But other
scenes such as when a main character gets wounded and is carried down the
escalator, down the street, placed on a cart and then rushed to the hospital
is just plain silly. How about calling an ambulance?
Still, this is a film that speeds by, has some
intense moments and I found it compelling (if emotionally not very involving)
and impossible to stop viewing even though I had promised myself to only
watch half of it before going to bed!
My rating for this film: 7.5
Distributor - Ocean Shores
For an Ocean Shores DVD the transfer is not
bad - clean - no logo popping up - but I assume this is the same transfer
as for the LD.
Menu? - you don't need no stinking menu! -
No trailer, no previews
Subs - burnt on English and Chinese
Subs are manageable - not great, but not terrible
either in terms of being able to read them.
I heard that there may be some cuts on the
DVD, but don't know what or where or how much.