ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn
Movies like this are the reason I love cinema. Beast Cops is funny, touching, well-acted and perfectly directed.
HK cops Tung (played by Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) and Sam (Sam Lee) are slackers. They are in deep with the triads which basically means they can do whatever they want. The two of them hang out at the clubs and don’t do any real police work at all. Tung has a gambling problem and always seems to be short on cash. Ultra-skinny Sam enjoys womanizing and playing video games while on duty. Life goes on for these two pretty much as it always had until they get a new boss named Mike played by Michael Wong. Mike is part Chinese but was raised in the west and therefore a bit of a greenhorn in the ways of Hong Kong street life. He is also very serious about his job. In the beginning, this causes conflict between Sam, Tung, and Mike but then Tung rents his room out to Mike leading to a cross-pollination of their worlds. The majority of the film chronicles their day to day lives and the progression of the relationship of the three roommates. Mike gradually gets used to Sam and Tung’s messy ways. He gets caught up with their lifestyle, even going so far as to drop E with them in a nightclub. When Mike meets Madame Yoyo (Kathy Chow), the two fall in love. Unfortunately, she’s the girlfriend of Triad Fai (Roy Cheung) who has fled the country for legal reasons early on. Conversely, Tung and Sam are influenced by Mike’s dedication and become (slightly) better cops.
When Fai returns to Hong Kong, he finds that one of his minions – the aptly named Pushy Pin – has taken over his turf while he was in hiding. When Cheung goes to confront him, the newly ascended Pushy Pin kills him with a really big, scary knife. The fight scenes in Beast Cops are few and far between. The script eschews action for character and relationship development. Fai was very good friends with Tung, who is now obliged to take revenge for him by going after Pushy Pin. To prepare, Tung downs a six-pack of Foster’s Lager and a fistful of pills before embarking on his mission. It is in one of the best “ballistic” performances I’ve ever seen. Of course, Mike and Sam show up to get in on the fun, too. The ending wraps things up so perfectly that it would be a spoiler crime to give it away. Anthony Wong covers a lot of emotional territory in his performance here. His character arc goes from mischievous freeloader to dejected lover to wounded animal all in the span on 90 minutes. He hits every note perfectly. It’s like watching a human symphony playing on screen. Justifiably, Wong won the Best Actor Award in for his performance at that year’s Hong Kong Film Awards.
If my plot synopsis leaves you feeling like this is just another cop film, it’s not. What makes this film so special is all the little moments the characters are given. There are a lot of scenes where the principles just stand around on a street corner talking. They are never boring. Each scene moves the story along and gives the viewer more insight to the lives of these officers. It’s not an action film, so much as a character study with an incredibly violent ending. The first time I saw this movie, I watched again within two days and loved it even more the second time. It is exceptionally rare for an HK cop movie to be this well-written. Every actor is perfectly cast in his or her part. Along with Wong’s award, Beast Cops also won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Pushy Pin), Best Screenplay, and Best Director (for Gordon Chan and Dante Lam.) It deserved all of them ten times over. Absolute kudos to everyone involved with this wonderful movie!