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Bad Movie Tuesday: City Cops (1989), Cynthia Rothrock and Michiko Nishiwaki have one decent fight in this crappy Hong Kong police flick.

October 3, 2017

MY CALL:  Overall, this feels more like a cheap police movie than a martial arts movie.  The humor never seems to work, and the non-martial arts action is terrible.  Just fast-forward to Rothrock-Michiko fight in the end.  MOVIES LIKE City Cops:  Well, don’t watch Outside the Law (2002) or Night Vision (1997) unless you’re looking for proper Bad Movie Tuesday material.  Not Rothrock’s best work.  Instead, I’d turn to China O’Brien (1990) or better yet, Yes, Madam (1985).

Also released as Fight to Win and Miao tan shuang long, this is the quintessential Bad Movie Tuesday, complete with bad English dubbing and a paper-thin storyline. Things that don’t seem to matter constantly transpire and little ever makes any sense. We have tape recordings with damning evidence (e.g., Hard to Kill), haphazard gun fights, laughable dialogue, stolen diamonds, over-used sound effects every time someone swings a pocket knife, dirty cops, and a lot of misogyny.

Inspector Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock;  China O’Brien, Night Vision, Outside the Law, Undefeatable) is an American FBI agent working with local law enforcement in Hong Kong.  Why…?  Does it matter?  Not really.  I can’t even explain any of the three titles of this movie.

The first 35 minutes are devastatingly boring. The highlight is a completely lame bar fight that squanders Rothrock’s skills.  I’m assuming none of the stuntmen could handle basic choreography.  Thankfully the fights (and her opposition) get much better the deeper we venture into the running time.  I fear little in her filmography will measure up to her outstanding work in Yes, Madam (1985), but at least this is serviceable (in brief parts).  The sai-swordplay is good and there are some occasional decent acrobatics.

Fight Scene SIDEBAR: I’m not saying Rothrock isn’t impressive in this movie—probably not worthy of the Queen of Martial Arts moniker.  I’m just saying if she had the luxury of enjoying Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak), Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption) or Michael Jai White (Undisputed 2) as her opposition, she could show her full ability.  I’ve seen the same situation arise in Scott Adkins’ movies, in which he can only look as talented (or as unimpressive) as his worst stuntman (e.g., Hard Target 2).  For example, Rothrock has kicked someone like 10,000 times—so when she kicks someone the kick looks good.  But an actor that hasn’t “been kicked” too often looks like a stuntman school dropout in this movie.

We find a bunch of discount store bad guys—one has a cigarette immediately after finishing his sword practice in his office, another wears a bandana with a suit while conducting a cash briefcase transaction, others are dime-a-dozen goons that never seem to have guns when they need them.

Overall, this feels more like a police/crime action movie that happens to have some martial arts rather than a martial arts movie.  The martial arts are most satisfying during the big fight finale when Cindy faces Michiko (Michiko Nishiwaki; stunt woman).  Here the choreography captures the technique and grandeur of proper Kung Fu theater (or, close enough for this movie).

This was actually marketed as an action/crime comedy, but the humor never seems to hit—not even when you can tell it’s trying to be really clever.  Likewise, the non-martial arts action is terrible (in one scene I’m pretty sure a guy fired four times and five bad guys dropped).  The only reason to watch this is for the Rothrock-Michiko fight.  If you don’t watch this (for mockery) with friends, I’d suggest just fast-forwarding to that.

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