Year of release: 2008
Director: Jingle Ma
Action director: Stephen Tung
Producers: Catherin Hun, Lu Tao
Writers: Jingle Ma, Susan Chan, William Wong, Jia Zhen, Gu Fei-Fei, Chiu Tin-Yau
Cinematography: Jingle Ma, Chan Kwok-Hung
Editor: Mo Ya-Li
Music: Tommy Wai, Ah Shing
Stars: Shawn Yu, Chan Kwan, Shaun Tam, Linda Chung, Wong You-Nam, Danny Lee, Michelle Yim, Vincent Kok, Hung Yan-Yan
Rated IIB for violence and language
DVD available for purchase at www.sensasian.com
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There's one thing that nobody can deny about cinematographer-turned-director Jingle Ma's films, such as Hot War, Tokyo Raiders and Silver Hawk: they all look and sound great. Unfortunately, most of them fall into the "jade vase" category; pretty to look at, but hollow inside. While no one's going to mistake Playboy Cops for a Wong Kar-Wai movie, Ma shows a bit of maturity in his film-making that raises this release above a lot of Hong Kong's recent pop cinema releases.
At first glance, however, this would not seem to be the case. The first scene has Michael (Shawn Yu), a rich heir who became a cop against his father's (Danny Lee) wishes solving a hostage situation by literally throwing money at the crook. It's done with Ma's trademark slickness, and leaves the viewer wondering if Playboy Cops is just another Hong Kong production that is an extended music video trying to disguise itself as an actual movie.
Things aren't helped by the introduction of the other main character, Lincoln (Chan Kwan), himself a heir who has become an officer. Lincoln's been brought to HK from the Mainland in order to assist in the investigation of his brother's murder. Even though Michael has been suspended for his tactics, he offers to help Lincoln, on the condition that Lincoln leaves HK afterwards, so Michael can get back together with his ex, Lisa (Linda Chung), who Lincoln is now dating.
For the first hour, Playboy Cops plays out like a lot of newer HK productions. The ridiculous nature of the plot (which was probably not helped by the fact that six people worked on the screenplay) threatens to take the movie off of the rails at times. But things are brought back via the performances of the lead actors that lend creedence to even the more ludicrous plot twists (think terminal illness) and some solid fight sequences helmed by veteran action director Stephen Tung.
Where Playboy Cops really gels together is during the final act. In an unexpected turn, Playboy Cops becomes not the promo material for its' young stars most HK productions seem to be nowadays, but a throwback to the "golden days" of 1980's HK film-making, with a violent confrontation between Michael, Lincoln, and the movie's "real" villain, culminating in a dark ending that has been sorely missed over the past few years.
It's a shame the rest of Playboy Cops couldn't match the passion and intensity of the finale, but as such, it still remains one of the better action/drama pictures to come out of HK in a while.