COP ON A MISSION (2001) review

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A year before Infernal Affairs rejuvenated Hong Kong cinema, Eric Tsang was already playing an affable yet brutal mob boss in an ‘undercover cop drama’, Cop on a Mission, which didn’t get much attention but deserved its fair share of it. It tells of Mike (Daniel Wu), a driven cop who is assigned to an undercover mission in triad boss Yum’s (Eric Tsang) circle. But he is soon seduced not only by the glitzy world he has infiltrated, but also by Yum’s beautiful wife Pauline (Suki Kwan). As he grows more and more estranged from his real life, including his kind girlfriend (Anya), and is given more and more power by the trusting Yum, Mike’s moral compass threatens to go awol. It’s not difficult to see why such a film would get overshadowed and somewhat forgotten in the wake of the Infernal Affairs trilogy’s enormous success. Cop on a Mission has an altogether much less polished package, though it is directed with maximum efficiency by hard-working editor Marco Mak (who edited virtually every Hong Kong classic of the nineties) ; the cast is less glamorous (Wu and Tsang being the only big names), and the script is less tortuous. But contrary to many of its kind, Marco Mak’s film doesn’t desperately try to be mind-blowing, it shoots for “fun and engrossing” and hits its target.

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MADAM CITY HUNTER (1993) short review

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Bearing not even the faintest connection to the famous City Hunter character which received its Jackie Chan-starring film adaptation the same year, Madam City Hunter is a bafflingly-scripted action comedy in which a tough police officer (Cynthia Khan) is framed for murder and takes advantage of her suspension to investigate on her shady young stepmother (Kara Hui), who may be a venomous gold-digger with ties to the mob. She is helped by her love-struck commissioner (Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung) and a private investigator (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) and his hyperactive girlfriend (Sheila Chan). It’s a film that noisily goes nowhere, a string of lazy gags peppered with bouts of fairly inspired action (Yuen Woo Ping produces and had a hand in the fights). The trite comedy balances between playing ground-level hijinks and viagra jokes. Still, outside of the scant fight scenes, the film’s one redeeming aspect is its cast: Cynthia Khan may not be quite at home in that kind of comedy, but Anthony Wong Chau-Sang is always eminently watchable, Kara Hui ramps up the sexy and has a lot of fun, and Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung is enjoyably cast against type as Khan’s swooning, well-meaning superior officer. A fun film, in an obnoxious way. **