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



DVD Information:

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. 

Letterbox

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.