When it comes to director's first films you need to give a little leeway. Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi had great sequences and stylish direction but as a film was rather dull and plodding. The dialogue too was as derivative as it comes. Peter Jackson's Bad Taste was very entertaining and full of energy yet lacked a cohesive plot and made very little sense. It's for this reason that the UK produced action comedy debut film Cop on the Edge IX: Prelude to Justice has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Reportedly made for under £1,000, Cop was created by three University students in South Wales. It's actually difficult to see where the money went because it certainly didn't end up on the screen. Nor did it go on any actors fees if the performances of debutants Mike Godard and Nick Murray are anything to go by.
The plot, such that it is, centres on a rogue cop, oddly named Jake Cop, who has to come out of retirement when the daughter of his dead partner goes missing. Before you ask, it is a self referential movie and the plot is supposed to be clichéd. Jake gets his piece and shield back from Captain Jack Harris, played by possibly the most wooden actor I've ever seen; Mike Godard, and proceeds to work his way through a sequence of cheaply created and derivative scenes looking for his old enemy Sanchez. Any back story that we need is provided by the medium of the black and white flashback where Jake and his long dead partner Jimmy relay the information about a proposed bust that has the both very nervous. This is of course the bust of Sanchez, which as the film's opening flashback shows us goes horribly wrong.
While Jake is having these flashbacks, Sanchez is shouting in a strange mixture of Columbian/Mancunian at everyone and anyone that will listen. His deputy Rachel, played by Marijan Hubert von Staufer looks around 15, but is supposedly the most feared assassin in Europe. If that doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry, it's about to get worse. Rachel is despatched by his boss to finish the job on Jake that he started some 8 years ago, presumably when he was just 7. While Rachel is heading off to eliminate Jake, Sanchez is setting up one of his many drugs deals with the one eared crime lord of Ohio, Lopez. Maybe this is where the budget went; the prosthetics on Lopez' ear must of cost at least £1.50, maybe more.
Back at Jake's apartment in the heart of L.A., looking decidedly like a small Welsh town, Jake's latest flashback is disturbed by the arrival of Rachel in what has to be the most blundered and amateurish attempt at a hit in the history of film. How does Rachel attempt to kill Jake? Is it with a gun, a knife, a poison dart? No, he attempts to strangle Jake with his own gold chains. Naturally this fails miserably and Jake pursues the hapless assassin. The subsequent chase sequence drags on for what seems like an eternity resulting in an almost passable fight atop a multi-story car park. Through much grunting and ham fisted acting Jake apprehends the youthful Rachel by smacking him in the face with his piece.
One of the cheesiest interrogation scenes ever filmed follows, where Jake's new partner Rick Koyaanisqatsi attempts to intimidate Rachel with a series of Welsh sounding swearing. Jake soon tires and proceeds to use his firearms, much to the anger of his increasingly drunkard and not to mention wooden captain.
With the info acquired from Rachel Jake is able to storm Sanchez' drugs deal, which surprisingly is taken place in an abandoned warehouse. This seems to be the film's main set piece action sequence as Jake manages to squeeze off several dozen rounds of ammo before running out of bullets. This sequence isn't actually too bad as it becomes clear where the directors have spent their time. We're basically treated to a three way shoot out between two rival gangs and the angry Jake. Very fast moving camera shots and editing disguise the lack of any acting ability and squibs to create a genuinely exciting action sequence.
This is then totally undone by a rather lame twenty miles per hour car chase. It looks like it was all done in one car park. Jake performs what looks like a genuinely dangerous stunt by chasing after the van in which Sanchez is escaping and climbing up it onto the roof while it is in motion. Perhaps the budget went on hospital fees?
For those truly wondering where this supposed £1,000 budget went will be even more perplexed by the next scene. The van being driven by Sanchez, or rather a Corgi version of it crashes with a plonk into a plastic oil tanker. It has to be seen to be believed, but strangely looks better than the model work in Goldeneye.
Left unconscious by the power of the blast, both Jake and Sanchez wake the next day for one final confrontation that sees the evil Mancunian heading for a watery grave.
At only seventy-five minutes you may think this is short, sharp and concise movie. You'd be wrong. It could easily have been cut down to a tighter fifty minutes, or less with no real loss of plot. The acting, if that's the right word, borders on the atrocious.
All that said though this film has a lot going for it, there's clearly a lot of energy and time gone into what must have been nothing more than an idea between three mates that snow-balled from there. The premise is a very funny one and some of the dialogue is inspired. The action sequences too, when given time to develop are very professionally handled.
If they had a budget and some actors they might be dangerous.
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