Cop on a Mission
Director: Marco Mak
Stars: Eric Tsang, Daniel Wu, Suki Kwan, David Lee, Ng An Ya, Frankie Ng, Richard Cheung, Karel Wong
A beat cop named Mike (Daniel Wu) uses excessive force and makes his senior partner look bad during a shootout. Mike's boss suggests that he resign before he is fired, so that he can transfer to be an undercover cop. As an undercover, Mike's mission is to infiltrate high-level Triad Yum King-Tin's (Eric Tsang) gang, which he does so successfully -- almost too successfully, as within a short time his love of both the Triad lifestyle and Yum's wife Pauline (Suki Kwan) puts his life and mission in jeopardy.
This type of plot, of course, been done many times before. However, Cop on a Mission takes a fresh approach through the characterization of Mike. Most films of this type have the lead undercover character face a crisis of conscience as they must decide which side of the law they are on. Mike makes a different kind of decision than most lead characters in this kind of movie, and that makes this film stand out.
Cop on a Mission also has solid performances from its' cast to help it along. San Francisco native Daniel Wu is still not fluent in Cantonese (something which some of the gangsters make fun of), but he is progressing along fine as an actor, especially when put up against many of Hong Kong's other young thespians. Eric Tsang (known primarily for his comedic roles) is often under-rated when it comes to his dramatic acting, but he puts in a fine performance as the tired Triad boss who just wants to retire. Suki Kwan also does a good job, though her looks don't quite fit in with someone who would send a young guy like Mike all a-flutter. Director Marco Mak (who has done a great deal of editing work before stepping into the director's chair) brings a nice visual style to the film, making it interesting without becoming self-indulgent. I also liked the atmospheric, jazzy score.
So why doesn't Cop on a Mission warrant a higher rating? Ultimately, despite all the good things it has going for it, the film lacks that bit of punch that seperates good films from great ones. The movie's script (written by someone called "Not A Woman") plods in parts and slows the film down. Overall, though, Cop on a Mission is a solid movie that shows that Hong Kong can still produce good crime dramas.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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