Monday, March 9, 2009

Playing cops and gangsters

This weekend my family spent some time walking around First Markham Place. While there, we dropped by Broadcast Books & Gifts (the only store that I know where you can buy legit, authentic copies of Asian movies and drama) and picked up a new HK film called Lady Cop & Papa Crook. The movie stars prominent HK pop singers Eason Chan and Sammi Cheng. It's a complicated and compelling story about the tug of war between gangsters and police.

The movie begins off the coast of mainland China. An illegal operation is taking place, smuggling oil by siphoning it from a tanker into a truck on land. When the cops move in to bust the operation, the truck takes off leading to a high speed chase. The chase ends when the truck tips over, killing the gangsters along with a mother and child in a nearly car. John Fok (Eason Chan), is the crime lord in charge of the operation in Hong Kong. Because of the increased police attention as a result of the China incident, he is forced to put a halt to his operations.

The hiatus leads to unrest among his followers as money slips through the fingers of the gang. Just as he is putting his house back in order and getting ready to resume business as usual, his young child is kidnapped from day school. A mysterious caller demands $80 million in ransom.

The police have been keeping a close eye on John. His position as a major triad boss is a public secret. They swoop onto the scene, promising to use their resources to help John deal with his missing son. John is reluctant to accept, understandably worried about what dirty laundry might be aired during such a close association with law enforcement. However, his love for his son wins out and he agrees to cooperate with the investigation.

Molline Szeto (Sammi Cheng) is the chief investigator on the case. She's top notch at solving crimes but second rate at working relationships. She's been living with her artist boyfriend for ten years waiting for him to marry her. He told her that he would marry her after he finished his first art piece, and she's been waiting ever since. He's so absorbed with his work that he ignores her for days at a time. "He bought a box of condoms in 1997, and I think there's two left," she laments.

The stage is set for an intriguing relationship of cooperation and mistrust. John tries his best to balance collaboration with the police to find his missing son with protecting his criminal business interests and keeping his minions from revolting. Meanwhile, Molline is working the floor to solve the case and at the same time squeeze John and his henchmen for evidence on their illegal activities. Of course, there is the added tension of imminent danger to John's little boy and a anxious game of "who-dunnit" going on behind the scenes.

The movie manages to maintain a dramatic pace, without overdosing on action. Like many Hong Kong films, however, the plot is convoluted to the point of confusion. It was often a challenge to figure out what just happened before the next major turn occurred. Yet it was never impossible to decipher the going ons, which means it's not worth deducting too many marks over this complaint.

I have to admit that I tend to look favourably upon Hong Kong films. Firstly, I identify to some degree with the language and the culture. Secondly, I see it as an opportunity to expose myself to Cantonese, my comprehension of which I am desperately in need of improving. It's a little bit like language training. In fact, as I was watching I commented that I couldn't understand anything that they were saying.

Dad: "What's going on is this guy..."

Andy: "No no, I don't need you to translate. There are subtitles."

Dad: "Oh."

Andy: "What I mean is, if I didn't read the subtitles, I don't know what they're saying."

Nevertheless, Lady Cop & Papa Crook was an enjoyable movie with good acting quality, excellent pacing, all-star talent, and high production values. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for their fix of an HK-style cop thriller.


I thought I'd share Sammi Cheng's cellular phone ringtone from the movie with you. I couldn't help but be amused by it's catchy and unusual ways.

[Download this song]

Get your own playlist at!

I also thought I should mention that I watched the Director's Cut of the movie. It runs several minutes longer than the Theatrical version because certain scenes had to be deleted or re-filmed in order to make it past the Chinese censors.

1 comment:

Teddy said...

I'm so using that for my cell phone... lol try calling me tm... lmao