Review: LADY COP & PAPA CROOK 大搜查之女 (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Review: LADY COP & PAPA CROOK 大搜查之女 (2009)

Review: LADY COP & PAPA CROOK 大搜查之女 (2009)

LADY COP & PAPA CROOK involves John Fok (Eason Chan), a triad kingpin responsible for illegal red diesel trade in Greater China. When an oil tanker explodes accidentally during a police raid, he is forced to lay low of his business when he is being investigated by Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese police. He is frustrated enough already for the matter but that is just the beginning. Things become chaotic when his only son, Jimmy (Buzz Chung) is kidnapped. Enter Senior Inspector Maureen Szeto (Sammi Cheng), a short-tempered police detective in charge for the kidnapping case. She is very strict when comes to business but a sore loser when comes to personal life. Her longtime boyfriend, Michael (Conroy Chan) is a struggling artist who spends too much slacking around with his so-called artistic masterpiece. Worst still, she suspects Michael is seeing somebody else and also discovers that she's coincidentally pregnant when she is assigned to the case. In the meantime, John has trouble working with her and the rest of the police force, and so do his fellow triad family members including Uncle Wing (Joe Cheung), Uncle Fok (Felix Lok) and Ron (Wilfred Lau) where they also equally expressing their disapproval. However, John's estranged and heavily pregnant wife, Yammy (Michelle Ye) beg her husband to let the police handle the kidnapping case which ultimately leaves him no choice but to agree in the end. As the cops are confining at John's house to set up for the investigation, John has a troubling agenda of his own -- apparently, he needs to settle a score with his triad rival, Donald Ng (Patrick Tam). But there's something more than just an ongoing feud between two rivalries, as both John and Szeto starts to uncover hidden truth behind the mysterious figure responsible for the kidnapping of John's son.

REVIEW: When LADY COP & PAPA CROOK was first announced for September 2008 release, this highly-anticipated action comedy has fast generated enormous hype on the big-screen return of Hong Kong's former box-office darling, Sammi Cheng after three-year hiatus of sinking depression since her 2005's ill-fated EVERLASTING REGRET. Unfortunately LADY COP & PAPA CROOK has attracted more publicity for all the wrong reasons, forcing the movie to be postponed due to the strict Chinese government censorship requirements. The movie's original version proved to be so controversial that the filmmakers have to reshoot some of the scenes before resubmitted to the Mainland Chinese censors for final approval. The result was an agonising six-month delay and by the time the movie has finally see the light of its day in the first week of January 2009, it is obviously clear that the cut version of LADY COP & PAPA CROOK is a messy affair.

No doubt that Alan Mak and Felix Chong's screenplay tries hard to wrap around with various sub-genre of domestic comedy, kidnapping drama and gritty triad action all over the place. Such mix-and-match genre is a norm for Hong Kong cinema but the story turns out to be more confusing than an overall entertaining outcome. Perhaps the biggest problem lies in their half-baked idea to inject something worthwhile during the course of the movie. Whether it's the fault of the Mainland Chinese censors or it's the fact that their screenplay is haphazardly written all along, remains anybody's question. But what is obvious here that the movie drags a lot to get to the point while the story is terribly awkward when it tries to deal with many (unfunny) comedic situations involving Maureen Szeto.

Speaking of Maureen Szeto, Sammi Cheng is trying hard to bring back her cutey-aggressive persona to the table that once made her popular in Hong Kong cinema but her character proves to be more annoying instead. It is clear that her role is somewhat reflecting the similarity one Miriam Yeung had in LOVE UNDERCOVER series but too bad everything seems to be ill-fitting, especially when comes to compare with most of her fellow cops. It is certainly disappointed that her presence here is badly miscast. On the other hand, Eason Chan is typically intense in his hot-tempered role as a frustrating triad boss. But his character is also largely underwritten, and his onscreen chemistry with Sammi Cheng is almost non-existent.

While the story and the characters are mostly mixed results, Alan Mak and Felix Chong's direction remains stylish and fairly engaging in certain parts. It's just too bad they get too ambitious by throwing everything in the mix. One of the highly-disappointing Hong Kong movies of the year.

Sammi Cheng's much-anticipated return to the big screen is a stylish but tepid mess of lame action comedy, kidnapping drama and triad genre.

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