GEN-X COPS (Hong Kong - 1999): Jackie Chan co-produced this routine blockbuster as a showcase for some of Hong Kong's hottest new teen stars, including Nicholas Tse Ting-fung, Stephen Fung Tak-lun, Daniel Wu Yin-cho and comic relief Sam Lee Chan-sam. The convoluted storyline posits Tse, Fung and Lee as a trio of rebellious young cops, recruited as undercover agents by police commander Eric Tsang Chi-wai to investigate the shady business dealings between low-level Triad underling Wu and a Japanese crime lord (Toru Nakamura) who has seized a shipment of deadly explosives for nefarious purposes, prompting a sequence of betrayals and counter-betrayals amongst members of the opposing criminal factions, until events reach an explosive climax during a showdown at the newly-opened Hong Kong Convention Center.
Veteran director Benny Chan Muk-sing (A MOMENT OF ROMANCE, NEW POLICE STORY) marshals proceedings into a cohesive whole, though the movie fizzles badly after a dynamic opening sequence before rallying again somewhere around the halfway mark. The action scenes are staged and executed with all the breathless abandon one expects from HK cinema, but many of them unfold so quickly, it's often difficult to know who's doing what to whom, or even why, and crucial plot points are sometimes lost along the way. Few of the actors emerge with any credit, though Nakamura is admirably solemn as an English-speaking Japanese villain who clings to old-fashioned notions of truth and righteousness in a world where such virtues no longer have currency. The young leads are OK (Wu's transition from beleaguered second-in-command to ruthless hard man is surprisingly convincing), while Tsang spends much of his screen time trading insults with his younger, slicker police counterpart (Moses Chan Ho). Stand-out set-pieces include a breathtaking skydive from the roof of a high-rise building, and the climactic scenes at the Hong Kong Convention Center which utilize ambitious visual effects supervised by a US effects team, headed by Oscar-winner Joe Viskocil (INDEPENDENCE DAY, APOLLO 13). Sensitive viewers may be irritated by some xenophobic comments directed toward the Japanese villains, and there's a couple of dialogue exchanges which play directly to bigoted attitudes about gay men, but the offence is fleeting, if unnecessary. Ultimately, this big budget fluff - designed to compete with a flood of Hollywood blockbusters dominating the HK box-office - amounts to little more than a feel-good fantasy thriller, as slick and hollow as the very films it seeks to emulate. A huge success on its home turf, the film spawned an inevitable sequel, GEN-Y COPS (2000). Original title: DAK GING SAN YAN LUI (Cantonese) or TE JING XIN REN LEI (Mandarin).
Columbia TriStar's DVD offers a fine representation of the original film, and there's a generous helping of extras, including trailers, outtakes and a US-style 'Making of' which sells the film as a major blockbuster. Sound and picture quality is excellent. Major irritation: For some unfathomable reason, the disc continues to provide English subtitles during the lengthy English-language sequences in the original Cantonese version of the film.
2.39:1 (Anamorphic) / Anamorphically enhanced
DVD soundtrack: Dolby 5.1/Dolby 2.0
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Digital
Cantonese and English, with optional English subtitles
(Dubbed English version also included)