Badges of Fury: Film Review
Hong Kong action star Jet Li takes a backseat to young co-star Wen Zhang in a local cop spoof featuring a pantheon of star cameos.
From the first scene with an antsy young Hong Kong cop hopping around in a kilt disguised as part of a Scottish dance group, followed by a raucous free-for-all in which his man gets away, Badges of Fury stakes out its territory as broad laughs dressed up with some watchable if not remarkable fight sequences. What’s hot here is the cast and a shower of star cameos that should boost local box office in Hong Kong and China. Though top billing goes to Hong Kong action idol Jet Li as an aging cop who’s tired of the routine and longs for retirement, the story centers around youngsters Wen Zhang as a hot-shot rookie and Michelle Chen as his relatively straight superior. Outside Asia it is unlikely to roll far.
In a lot of ways, the well-paced script by Carbon Cheung (A Chinese Ghost Story) seems aimed at spoofing a lost bumbling cop genre, updated to the bare minimum with modern car chases and policewomen in shorts. Making his directing bow, Wong Tsz-ming brings real affection to his silly detectives, who are on the trail of a serial killer who leaves all his victims smiling. The "Smile Murders" turn out to be linked by an unhappy young actress (China’s Cecilia Liu): all the victims are her ex-boyfriends. But wait! They’ve all been stolen by her sexy, envious, unscrupulous sister (Ada Liu), who likes to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing her famous sister. In the end, it hardly matters who killed the guys, as long as the action keeps coming.
Jet Li fans may be disappointed to see him warming the bench so often in favor of the irritating but more energetic young Wen, but Li does come to the rescue of his cocky teammate in several well-staged scenes, spritely edited by Angie Lam. Another surprise is Michelle Chen, the disturbing romantic lead of Ripples of Desire, in a comic sidekick role that proves her versatility. A dozen famous faces from Hong Kong and mainland cinema turn up in walk-on roles, including luminaries like Josie Ho, Wu Jing and Tong Dawei, who plays the Japanese arch-villain in Switch.
Venue: Shanghai Film Arts Center, June 23, 2012
Production companies: Beijing Enlight Pictures, Hong Kong Pictures International
Cast: Wen Zhang, Jet Li, Cecilia Liu, Michelle Chen, Ada Liu, Wu Jing, Tong DaweiDirector: Wong Tsz-ming
Screenwriter: Carbon Cheung
Producers: Chui Po-chu, Abe Kwong, Chan Chi-leung
Executive producers: Wang Changtian, Li Xiaoping
Director of photography: Kenny Tse
Production designer: Alex Mok
Music: Raymond Wong Ying-wah
Costume designer: Shirley Chan
Editor: Angie Lam
Sales: Easternlight Films
No rating, 98 minutes