Playboy Cops [2008]

Cinematographer extraordinaire-turned-director Jingle Ma makes a film that is wildly complex on several levels. Playboy Cops [2008] features a Hong Kong movie genre buffet that draws from a myriad of popular films, some recent and some not so recent. Unfortunately, up to a half dozen writers contributed to the ambitious screenplay that is, at times, as heart wrenching as it is outright confounding.

A quick look at the promotional material for the film seduces the viewer into thinking of Benny Chan Muk-Sing's Gen-X Cops [1999] or Wilson Yip Wai-Shun's Skyline Cruisers [2000]. I can't think of another city in the world that could foster the basic premise of this film. Only in Hong Kong would the police force allow an officer to use his personal wealth to carry out his sworn duties. Where else would a Mainlander who is an ex-cop, as well as extremely wealthy, be brought in to help with a murder investigation? "Okay, so after the first ten minutes, where do we go?" I can hear one writer say to the other.

Director Ma is smart to cast Shawn Yu in his movie. He uses a couple of newcomers, Aloys Chen and Linda Chung Ka-Yan, to good effect. Even the usually sleepy Wong You-Nam looks like he was excited to work on this movie. Cinematographer Ma is off-the-chain. Some of his images in this movie are as good as anything he's ever done. Playboy Cops has a very claustrophobic feel to it. Even Hong Kong's skyscrapers seem to be leaning over trying to get into the shot.

Action director Stephen Tung Wai, who worked with Ma on his very first directorial effort Hot War [1998], puts the actors through their paces using some techniques that have been popularized by Jack Wong Wai-Leung and Donnie Yen Ji-Dan.


Copyright © 2008 John Crawford. All rights reserved.