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Original Title:
Fa fa ying king

Hong Kong 2008

Action, Comedy, Drama

Jingle Ma

Shawn Yue
Aloys Chen
Linda Chung
Shaun Tam
Wong You-Nam
Danny Lee
Vincent Kok
Michelle Mee
Xiong Xin Xin
Teddy Lin
Kam Loi Kwan
Sammuel Leung
Ella Koon
Philip Ng
Zou Na

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Playboy Cops

Story: Millionaire's son Michael Mak (Shawn Yue) actually doesn't need to work, but chasing criminals as a cop has become a hobby of his. With his father's money at his disposal this seems to be quite easy, too, but he is still not very popular among his colleagues. When former policeman Lincoln Lam (Aloys Chen) arrives in Hong Kong in order to solve the mystery of his brother's murder, the newly suspended Michael clashes with Lincoln as latter seemingly dates his girlfriend Lisa (Linda Chung). Michael and Lincoln decide, after having put aside their differences for now, to look for the murderer of the new case who seems to be part of a larger gang, so that Lincoln can go back to the mainland as soon as possible and Michael can win back Lisa. Thanks to a witness who has seen the whole murder the two soon have a lead. However, after ending up in a dead end over and over again they both realize that someone is messing around with them...

Review: Those who are already rolling their eyes when reading the title and seeing the poster surely have good reasons for that. A buddy flick centering around two rich, spoiled brats who want to play cops and while doing so are actually doing a good job. Of course, they do so in expensive suits and with sun glasses. So this is a film aiming for female prepubertal audiences? No, actually it really isn't that bad. "Playboy Cops" is at first extremely silly, yet doesn't make a secret of the fact that it doesn't take itself serious. Thus, the film creates its very own B-movie charm which is intensified by the fact that the film doesn't just cover one genre, but that it also becomes surprisingly bloody and dramatic at some points. Especially during the last quarter the movie shifts dramatically concerning its atmosphere so that we realize that we are in fact watching a Hong Kong movie in which anything can happen. This is also the moment that "Playboy Cops" suddenly becomes thrilling and captivating so that you even might get positively surprised by this flick.

Jingle Ma ("Seoul Raiders", "Silver Hawk") isn't really known for delivering quality productions, but he is known for offering entertainment. "Playboy Cops" manages to do exactly that even if nothing more. Of course, the movie is a questionable mix of genres. The script doesn't offer a lot and especially the first half of the movie is extremely irritating as there is often happening nothing at all if you look at it closely. Naturally, you need an introduction in which the two unequal cops clash, but one of these moments too many, and numerous dead tracks the two are chasing after later, the viewer gets somewhat bored. Luckily, the two actors can radiate a certain kind of charisma that can keep us interested in the events. If this shouldn't be enough there are thrown in some small action scenes for good measure, most of them in shape of brawls which are all presented rather simply, yet have some entertainment value to them because of this fact, too.

The fast-paced and at times annoying score never leaves any doubt that this is an action comedy in best Hollywood manner, even though the time when such a movie was modern lies approximately 20 years in the past. Being quite aware of that Jingle Ma works in some scenes that have to be understood as a wink to this genre. There is one (futile) slow motion sequence as the two cool looking cops get out of their car into the sunny streets of Hong Kong or the obligative emergency call of a man who wants to commit suicide by jumping off a building, to name just a few examples. However, what's making us question the cheery mood are some bloody knife-drawing and most of all a finale in which chain saws are made use of and women get abused. This change of style is typical for Hong Kong cinema of the 80s/90s, yet doesn't seem to fit into this more Hollywood-orientated action-comedy production.

The odd finale still manages to be enjoyable and in fact depicts the actual highlight of the film. Of course, you shouldn't be bothered by the fact that the villian is introduced in a rather bumby fashion and also is presented a bit too psychopathically. At least, this change of mood leads to the thrilling factor of the movie rising a lot and it even makes us cheer for the main characters.
However, even before that there are some changes in the mood, e.g. when we get to know more about the relationship between Michael and Lisa resp. Lisa and Lincoln. Latter one also has a secret concerning his health, while Michael's father has to face some serious problems, too. All of this is supposed to push the drama to the limit and make the characters more three-dimensional. If this works out remains to be seen, but at least the two characters, most of all Shawn Yue ("Invisible Target", "Rule Number One"), don't take their roles too serious and manage to establish them as individuals we can sympathize with, even if Aloys Chen ("Painted Skin", "The Little Chinese Seamstress") could have come out of his shell a little bit more for that matter.

The supporting cast features Shaun Tam, son of Ti Lung, as well as Linda Chung, Miss Chinese International 2004. Latter one adds more to the drama part of the film, naturally, yet as not to be expected otherwise could have been fleshed out more.
At the end you don't know what to say or think about "Playboy Cops". This surely isn't a good movie, but being aware of that the film simply tries to be fun. And it succeeds in being so more often than you would have thought this to be possible. The ending could put off some viewers because of its massive change of style, for me personally it could add to the movie's value a lot, though. For fans of inconsistent nonsense-entertainment presented with polished pictures this flick is recommendable, everyone else has to deal with the fact that Hong Kong simply can't do anything better than this at the moment...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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