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August 6th, 2001 Issue #68

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Cop On A Mission
(2001; Film Power Co. / The Storm Riders Management Co.): 6/10

Cover art courtesy Deltamac

Ji fat faan fat

Zhi fa fan fa

Know The Law Break The Law

Lam Suet (centre). Image courtesy Deltamac.

Tossed into an open grave and about to be buried alive, former policeman Mike (Daniel Wu Yan-zu) looks back on the events that got him into this predicament. While on patrol one evening, Mike and his partner follow a suspicious character (Lam Suet) and end up stumbling into a shootout. Mike slits the throat of one perpetrator and shoots another multiple times, earning him a suspension and possible dismissal for use of excessive force. Dining out with his girlfriend (Wu An-ya), Mike encounters the hood he followed that night and the two pursue each other through the backrooms of the restaurant. While in hiding, Mike inadvertently sees a beautiful woman undressing. She is Pauline (Suki Kwan Sau-mei), the wife of Hung Hing boss Yum (Eric Tsang Chi-wai, sporting distractingly goofy looking eyebrows), who is playing cards with some other triads in a private room. In actuality, the evening has been set up so that Yum will have some witnesses when he deals with a thieving underling. Yum finishes the man off with a butter knife through the neck and, upon leaving, passes Mike in the hallway.

Suki Kwan Sau-mei (left) and Daniel Wu (right). Image courtesy Deltamac.

The gangster assumes that Mike has seen what went down and hands him a wad of cash. This turns out to be a fortuitous introduction because, soon afterwards, Mike's boss asks him to go undercover in Hung Hing. Mike quickly earns Yum’s attention by saving Pauline from some knife-wielding attackers and he continues to impress his boss by volunteering to handle all of the day-to-day dirty work. Advancing up the ladder with lightning speed, Mike is soon in charge of all the Hung Hing activities on HK Island. He also begins making time with Pauline, who is especially receptive as Yum has been impotent since an assassination attempt was made on him four years earlier. Yum is not oblivious, however, to all of the little changes that have taken place during the past few months.

Eric Tsang Chi-Wai (centre) and henchmen. Image courtesy Deltamac.

Director Marco Mak Chi-sin presents this familiar scenario with a reasonable amount of visual panache but fast pacing and a quality cast are the main draws. Daniel Wu continues to grow as an actor and has learned enough Cantonese now that he does not have to continually fall back on English. Eric Tsang and Suki Kwan both do solid work, adding poignancy and believability to their "aging boss and trophy wife" stock characters. The inclusion of Lam Suet in the cast is an especially nice touch, as he seems to be reprising his memorably dense hoodlum from RUNNING OUT OF TIME and garners almost as many laughs here. The one notable drawback is the screenplay (credited to the mysterious "Not a Woman," who was also the author of BLIND ROMANCE and I AM YOUR BIRTHDAY CAKE), which offers nothing original and even serves up the umpteenth ripoff of the baseball bat execution from THE UNTOUCHABLES. Still, like Mak's previous crime thriller, THE BLOOD RULES (reviewed in issue #44), COP ON A MISSION is a cut above the usual HK B-movie fare and certainly worth a viewing. Wong Chi-yeung, Frankie Ng Chi-hung, and Mang Fai co-star.

Daniel Wu (left) and Suki Kwan (right). Image courtesy Deltamac.

DVD Specs:

Deltamac #DVD88019
Dolby Digital (1.0)
Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English or Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stils
Letterboxed (1.76:1)
Category IIB (Brutal Violence, Torture, Nudity, Mild Sexuality)
98 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Deltamac.
The image is very clean and sharp, with deep blacks, good contrasts, and attractive hues. The sound is monaural but it's fairly good, offering a decent lower end. A trailer (which can be played in either Cantonese or Mandarin) is the only extra and, as usual with Deltamac, the menu is only in Chinese (but still easy to figure out). The Ontario Film Review Board database lists COP ON A MISSION's running time as 102 minutes, indicating that this 98 minute presentation is most likely derived from a PAL master. That said, the conversion is excellent. A neck breaking sequence has been slightly abbreviated, presumably to avoid a Category III rating, and one presumes that it was also that way in theatrical prints.

Eric Tsang and his distracting eyebrows. Image courtesy Deltamac.

COP ON A MISSION is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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