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1 item from 2001

Gen Y Cops

9 January 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Gen Y Cops" is entertaining, flashy and outlandish, not to mention ridiculous and silly -- as you'd expect any good Hong Kong picture to be. It is still lower-grade than most of John Woo's locally made films, but Hong Kong aficionados will enjoy the uberkitsch of its kinetic energy.

A sequel to last year's hit "Gen X Cops", "Gen Y", directed by Benny Chan (Jackie Chan's "Who Am I?") again features some of Hong Kong's top idols as a group of skilled young agents tackling equally fashionable and good-looking terrorists. Imagine 'N Sync and Britney battling Backstreet Boys and Christina directed by Michael Bay. The first film found success throughout Asia, including Japan and Singapore, and is out on DVD in America.

For "Gen Y", the producers have set their sights on more international appeal. Much of the film is in English, and the cast is bolstered with more native English-speaking leads, including Toronto-raised Edison Chen, Hawaiian-Chinese model Maggie Q and young American actor Paul Rudd ("Clueless", "The Cider House Rules").

The plot involves a robot named RS1 (think RoboCop version 7.1) that an American weapons company has created and unveiled at a law enforcement exhibition in Hong Kong. When the disgruntled teen IT genius who created the robot steals it back, the Gen Y Cops and their FBI rivals go into action tracking the dangerous robot. Complicating the story is that one of the young cops is a childhood friend of the bad boy.

Twenty-year-old Chen makes his debut as the officer who gets duped by his friend-turned-foe. With his martial arts training and James Dean-brooding looks, he could be a big regional star soon.

Along with Chen, the slick actioner relies heavily on the charisma of the other stars and tongue-in-cheek humor that ensures nobody takes this lightweight romp too seriously. As goofball sidekicks, Stephen Fung and especially Sam Lee (of Fruit Chan's "Made in Hong Kong" fame) fill their scenes with enough Bill-and-Ted-type excellent adventures for maximum comic relief. In fact, Lee is beginning to rival Jim Carrey for facial contortions.

Chinese audiences also should get a kick from Anthony Wong Chau-sang (Ann Hui's "Ordinary Heroes") and Eric Kot as incompetent scientists who brag that their robot is better than the American version. Unfortunately, their hilarious Jiang Zemin accents won't be picked up by Western audiences.

In between the broad slapstick are predictable shootouts, kung fu fights and explosions, all backed by a techno soundtrack straight from last weekend's rave.

Not as interesting are some of the stiff secondary players relegated to bad expository dialogue. This is a film with virtually no character development, which is sometimes a blessing because "character development" in projects like this is often painful to watch.

The short-circuited ending goes from intense to frivolous to laughable as the computer robot threatens to detonate its nuclear center in a downtown core. Somehow, the inconsistent tone isn't too disturbing. As Hong Kong cinephiles know, it comes with the territory.


Presented by Media Asia Films in association with Regent Entertainment

Credits: Director: Benny Chan; Screenwriters: Felix Chong, Bey Logan; Producers: John Chong/Solon So, Benny Chan; Executive producers: Thomas Chung, Willie Chan; Director of photography: Anthony Pun; Production designer: Bruce Yu

Music: Peter Kam; Editor: Cheung Ka Fai; Action director: Nicky Li. Cast: Edison: Edison Chen; Match: Stephen Fung; Alien: Sam Lee; Jane: Maggie Q; Kurt: Richard Sun; Ian Curtis: Paul Rudd; Oli: Rachel Ngan; Ross Tucker: Mark Hicks; Inspector Chung: Christy Chung. No MPAA rating. Running time -- 108 minutes. Color/stereo.


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