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Cop Unbowed


Alex Fong

Wai Tat


Marcus Fok

Cast: Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai, Chin Kar-Lok, Yu Chiu, Sam Chan Yu-Sum, Michael Tse Tin-Wah, Lam Suet, Eddy Ko Hung, Ken Chung Siu-Hong, Chan Shan-Chung, May Wong, Huang Cai-Ying,Leila Tong Ling
The Skinny: Not bad for direct-to-video fare, but that is, unfortunately, a relative measure. This cop-triad thriller is more plodding than powerful, and is full of uneven performances and standard melodrama.
by Kozo:

Alex Fong broods like there's no tomorrow in the shot-on-film but released-on-video flick Cop Unbowed. Fong is Lam, a former cop who was ousted from the force due to a frame-up involving the kidnapping of his girlfriend Kelly (Yoyo Mung). During the ensuing melee, Lam was forced to kill his best friend Fung (Michael Tse), who apparently worked overtime to lose that title. Fung was working for mob boss Mr. Dick (Eddy Ko), and betrayed both Dick and Lam by taking up with Dick's girlfriend. The outcome of this web of broken loyalty and bottled-up betrayal? Plenty of hurt feelings, many stretching to the present day. Lam and Kelly now run a seaside restaurant, but the scars are both physical (Lam's hands shake uncontrollably due to triad-inflicted wounds) and emotional (Lam and Kelly both do their share of brooding). When Mr. Dick returns to the fray, Lam had better watch out. However, Lam may have bigger problems, namely new hire Henry (Sam Chan), who may be more than he seems. Coincidentally, Henry also likes to brood. Considering the amount of time spent by the principals morosely staring into the horizon, it's a miracle that Cop Unbowed runs less than ninety minutes.

However, you need actual content to justify a longer running time, and Cop Unbowed doesn't truly provide that. While possessing of a standard triad plotline and decent enough actors, Cop Unbowed pads its running time with endless shots of the principal actors brooding, and dispenses most of its revelations with obvious expository devices. Lam Suet appears as Alex Fong's cop pal, who seems to have nothing to do except appear at convenient times and enable the other characters. Lam and Kelly have their own bubbling personal conflict, but most of their scenes involve the two silently eating dinner, or one brooding while the other walks around in the background. Young turk Sam Chan is passable as the pivotal character of Henry, and his romance with waitress Yuki (Sammi Cheng lookalike Yu Chiu) gives the film some minor spark. Then again, Chiu's performance—as well as those of the other younger actors—is undisciplined and more fitting for serialized TV than a shot-on-film wannabe thriller.

Cementing matters is Chin Kar-Lok, who plays Lam's buddy Curry with pronounced "I'm a name actor" flair that's more annoying than charismatic. Curry shows up frequently to mouth off and get beaten up by potential bad guys—sometimes to such an extreme degree that it looks like he's about buy the farm. No dice, Curry usually shows up in the next scene with bandages on, indicating that director didn't have the wherewithal to have Chin Kar-Lok rein in his acting during the previous beatdown. Clunky, obvious symbolism, and an ultimately unexciting climax seal the deal. Cop Unbowed is standard stuff for bored home video renters and insatiable screen idol completists. Fans of Alex Fong and Yoyo Mung might like the close ups on their favorite stars, and followers of Yu Chiu can rejoice because she actually appears in a film. Some of those viewers might even term Cop Unbowed a surprise, as it's actually better than a majority of the direct-to-video films out there. That measure, however, is exceptionally relative. On the grand scale of things, Cop Unbowed barely scrapes average. (Kozo 2004)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen