It's the inferior sequel to Gen-X Cops
. The acting, storyline and action scenes are all worse. However it's funnier and has an exciting finale.
What I liked about Gen-X Cops
was that our heroes were playing with fire in two dangerous but similar worlds, one being their stupid police superiors and the other being a scary underworld of bloodbaths, yakuza and international arms dealers. They were in trouble. You wouldn't have bet money on them being alive and out of jail when the credits rolled.
The good news is that this film has two clever solutions to what I'd imagined would be the difficult problem. How do you do a sequel about edgy rebels who've been rejected by the establishment, when in the first film they proved all their naysayers wrong and earned acceptance? Answer #1: new characters. Nicholas Tse hasn't come back for the sequel, so in his place we have Edison Chen as another young cop with even stronger ties to the underworld. However that wouldn't solve the problem of Stephen Fung and Sam Lee, so the film also has Clever Answer #2: the FBI. Fung and Lee are still working for the Hong Kong police, despite the fact that they've become even bigger goofballs. Haven't they been sacked yet? They'll do things like blowing up an official Ferrari, but fortunately you don't need to worry about what this implies for their superiors' judgement. The FBI are swooping in and will be intending to sweep aside the locals.
This is clever, I think. It lets our heroes get into even bigger trouble with the FBI than they did with their superiors last time, in large part because I think Edison Chen crosses the line into "I'd have arrested him too". There's room for discussion, but at the end of the day he did shoot that FBI guy.
Unfortunately the FBI aren't as colourful as Moses Chan and Wayne Lai were last time. They're even more overbearing and they seem to have some kind of "never our fault" mental filter, but they're not cocks. Their actions are reasonable. They make sense. They don't seem incompetent, unless you're judging by results, and so I was never really worried for the Gen-Y Cops because of them.
The FBI agents do include some actors you might have heard of, though. Maggie Q is here, in the days before she was a Hollywood movie star, as is the American actor, comedian and screenwriter Paul Rudd. Other examples of his work include Clueless, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Phoebe's husband in Friends and (more importantly for me) Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
So that's the difficult problem sorted, i.e. the good guys. What I hadn't expected was the lame villains. At times this barely even counts as an action film, with a half-hour stretch at the beginning in which the movie seems to want to be a comedy instead. Gen-X Cops
had scary bad guys. This movie has a hacker. Admittedly he knows kung fu and what he's hacking into is a killer robot, but even so. Come on. He's a hacker. He's about as scary as your mother's chihuahua. Worse still he's played by non-actor Richard Sun, whose only recent credit is as a digital artist. My word, he's terrible. He makes Toru Nakamura last time look like Sir Laurence Olivier, since Nakamura was a proper actor with memorable screen presence. He simply couldn't speak English. Sun on the other hand knows the language, but that's his only plus point. He's a ham and not even a watchable one.
I'm not going to bash Edison Chen as hard as some reviewers have, though. He's certainly not good, but his worst scenes are when he's opposite Sun and that's a drag factor to make anyone look bad. Besides, this is a guy who's been in both The Dark Knight
and The Grudge 2
I think I've run out of negative stuff. There are three good things.
1. The big new element here is robots. Hong Kong is holding a police robot fair. The FBI are here because of the RS1, while looks like The Terminator and sounds like RoboCop. (You'll notice that its creator is called Dr Cameron.) Its CGI rendering won't exactly blow your mind, but you've still got to love the big fella. This film needed even more RS1. In addition to him we also have D1010, Tung Fung and a dinky French robot that lasts about ten seconds and kills people at a faster rate (but unintentionally) than anything else in the movie.
2. Sam Lee steals the movie. I loved him. He puts it under his arm and takes it home. Yes, he's overacting like a madman, but if it weren't for him I'd have had almost nothing to watch. He's playing Alien once again, but more importantly this time the film's realised that he's its number one selling point. They're thus going much, much harder for the comedy. You'll remember I noted the lack of action in this action movie? There's got to be something in its place and that something is Sam Lee pulling faces. I was in awe. It took me about fifteen minutes even to notice Stephen Fung.
3. The finale is enjoyable. The director's still Benny Chan and he still loves a good action sequence, even if the story he's telling this time isn't quite as high-octane. It all gets going at the end, though. There's a double-cross, another three-way battle (always fun) and a satisfying demise for the villain. There's also a robot showdown that's funny, albeit money-saving. On the downside there's another of those movie countdowns in which six seconds lasts for about a minute's screen time, but the film still ends strongly enough that you'll go away much happier than you had been twenty minutes earlier.
It's worth mentioning the languages. There's no Japanese this time, but I swear we hear more dialogue in English than Cantonese. Even Sam Lee says a bunch of it, although admittedly with him the joke is that he's supposed to be bad at it. What's more, the English is all delivered by people who are acquainted with the language and isn't directly a problem. The issue is really that having to cast an English-speaker means you're restricting your casting pool and so we get some bad performances, e.g. the financial backer in the opening sequence.
I quite liked this one. It's not even trying to be the original, but it's funny and it's got Sam Lee going berserk in it. I laughed at the subplot with the ugly girl who fancies him, for instance, although it's also a regrettable sequence in its semi-laddishness. Did you know that putting your head on an unattractive girl's shoulder will make you vomit? Well, you do now. Richard Sun is a problem, missing open goals like the scene where he's having a chat with RS1, but I can hardly claim that he's alone in overacting in this movie. I'd have appreciated a hat-tip towards Grace Yip and Nicholas Tse, but their absence theoretically improves the film by making room for other characters. Overall: a fun, not particularly meaningful romp with Sam Lee comedy and a decent action finale. You could do worse.