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(Daai sau cha ji neui) (HK)

  Publicity Stills of "Lady Cop & Papa Crook"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Genre: Drama/Comedy/Action
Director: Alan Mak and Felix Cheong
Cast: Sammi Cheng, Eason Chan, Zhang Guoli, Kate Tsui, Chapman To, Liu Kai Chi, Wilfred Lau, Ritchie Jen, Michelle Ye, Michelle Loo, Lok Ying Kwang, Ricky Chan
RunTime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://www.mediaasia.com/lcpc/

Opening Day: 1 January 2009


John Fok (starring Eason Chan) is the kingpin of illegal red oil in Greater China. When an oil tanker explodes accidentally, he becomes the focus of investigation by Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese police and is forced to halt his business to wait things out. While his business rivals start closing in, a member of his household is planning to betray him. On the surface, John seems totally helpless, but in reality, he’s been staging a major comeback for months. Just as he is finally ready to turn his fortune around, his only son is kidnapped!

Senior Inspector Molline Szeto (starring Sammi Cheng) is the rising star of the Police force. She is praised for bursting crimes with her sangfroid and precision. However, in matters of love, she is totally at wits’ end. After dating the same man for more than ten years with no likely prospect of an imminent wedding, she is determined to cut the knot once and for all, before she becomes too old to give birth. Poised at the cross road of her life, she is thrilled to be assigned to investigate the kidnap of John’s son.

John dispatches his whole gang to ferret his son’s whereabouts, only to find out that his rivals are redeploying people in China to assail him. Just when he is about to order an all-out fightback, Molline suddenly arrives with her team to garrison his house. Spurning her at first, he soon finds her critical analysis of situation at hand both apt and useful. An unlikely cooperation between cops and crooks thus ensues, leading to conflicts and clashes galore at every step till the end.

Movie Review:

Lady Cop is the highly intelligent but slightly neurotic senior detective Molline Szeto (Sammi Cheng), frustrated by her unexpected and unwelcome pregnancy by her unaccomplished boyfriend/ sculptor of 13 years.

Papa Crook is illegal oil syndicate kingpin John Fok (Eason Chan), happily married with a wife and son, but a wanted criminal by the Mainland police. The two cross paths when Papa Crook’s son is kidnapped by persons unknown demanding a HK$80 million ransom.

Welcome back, Sammi Cheng! It has been three years since we’ve seen you on screen. Lest one forgets, Sammi was once considered one of the most bankable stars at the Hong Kong box office. Why then was this, her supposed comeback film, delayed several times, only managing to secure a confirmed release date now?

Well that’s because despite its interesting title and quirky characters, this action comedy by writer-director duo Felix Chong and Alan Mak is pretty much a disappointment. Indeed, the pair has in the past shown great flair for writing (think Infernal Affairs, Initial D and Confession of Pain) but Lady Cop and Papa Crook is unfortunately not among one of their better works.

To their credit however the movie gets off to a strong start as we are introduced to Lady Cop going undercover at a social club and getting accosted by three male escorts (played to great hilarity by Ritchie Jen, Vincent Kok and Tin Kai-Man). But their subsequent attempts at injecting comedy- like how Lady Cop’s boyfriend manically uses an electric drill to carve up a corrugated steel sculpture in their house- appear to try too hard and end up falling flat.

Ditto for their effort in creating a whodunit mystery around the kidnap of Papa Crook’s son. Alas writers-directors Chong and Mak have once more worked overtime- this time at surrounding Papa Crook with too many questionable characters. The result of which only confuses more than intrigues right up to the almost anticlimactic ending.

What’s more, in having to balance the subplots of these several other characters, less time than desired is left for the main characters Lady Cop and Papa Crook to interact. And that is a shame- because the inevitable conflict and unlikely cooperation of Cop and Crook in solving the whodunit is probably the most intriguing part of the movie.

Luckily, Sammi Cheng once again demonstrates why she was once the queen of the Hong Kong box office. In her first ever detective role, she injects much pizzazz to play the idiosyncratic Lady Cop. Ostensibly, her three year hiatus has not dimmed her on-screen comedic sensibilities.

Sadly, Eason Chan is given much less to work with as the kingpin Papa Crook but the versatile actor-singer is watchable as ever. The stellar ensemble supporting cast also give the flagging plot a much needed boost, especially Chapman To as a detective on Lady Cop’s team trying to steal the affections of a school teacher whom Papa Crook’s bodyguard has a soft spot for.

Given its star power, and the pedigree of its writing-directing duo, Lady Cop and Papa Crook is at best underwhelming. It barely manages to deliver the action, and fares only slightly better with comedy. Once again, like their previous Moonlight in Tokyo, the pair’s sophomore directorial effort shows that while they may have flair in writing, they have much less panache when juggling both writing and directing.

Movie Rating:

(The Queen of the Hong Kong box office deserves a better comeback than this half-baked action comedy)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Hooked On You (2007)

. The Pye Dog (2006)

. Confession Of Pain (2006)

. Moonlight In Tokyo (2006)

. Divergence (2006)

. Initial D (2005)

. Yesterday Once More (2004)

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