Cop on a Mission (2001)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2010-02-07
Summary: Cop in a muddle
“Cop on a Mission” is the story of the steady degradation of Mike the Cop has he goes from bored to disgraced to only fit for undercover work while Mike the Gangster rises steadily in the hierarchy of the Triads that control all criminal enterprises of Hong Kong. We first see him in rain, unhappy with his life, patrolling with his much more straight-laced partner and complaining how the crooks can get rich but the cops can’t. To make things worse they are simply checking to make sure the luxury cars parked on the street are secured. When they encounter the King of Pimps making his collections from his under-pimps all they can do is watch while he counts his money and slaps around anyone who hasn’t made his quota. Two foolhardy but purposeful (and well armed) crooks try to rob the King of Pimps in the restaurant where Mike and his partner are having their 3:00 AM break which leads to a shootout in which everyone is killed other than the two policemen and a bystander played with sniveling perfection by Lam Suet.

Mike is in trouble for firing all the rounds in his revolver during the fracas although excessive gun use seems to pale next to his chopping off the head of one of the senior pimps when he couldn’t get his weapon unholstered in time. Following the arc of this type of movie, Mike is told to resign before he is fired; he will then be immediately rehired in secret and sent to infiltrate the operation of Yum King Tin a fearsome triad chieftain who is the second in command and main enforcer for the Hung Hing gang, an organization with its tentacles everywhere. Mike is able to begin his trek upwards in Yum’s operation when, while working as a lowly valet parker, he saves Mrs. Yum when thugs from the Double Eight gang attack her. He dispatches a half dozen chopper wielding opponents while suffering only a few knicks himself. Oh, and the very yummy Mrs. Yum falls in love with Mike during the fight.

Eric Tsang was perfect as Yum King Tin, going from entertaining his fellow gang leaders at dinner to killing one of them by stabbing him with a table knife without missing a beat. He is aware that his power rests on both meting out punishment to those who break the triad code and handing out rewards to those who uphold it. He sees Mike as a possible good addition to his crew and conditionally brings him aboard. At one point Pauline Yum says that no one but Yum could love her—she is a gambling addict and always spends too much money. Suki Kwan looks so fetching and is lit and shot to take complete advantage of her beauty that if she had said that her main faults were drinking human blood and howling at the moon there still would have been a line of men waiting to spread their cloaks over a puddle so she wouldn’t dampen her shoes. She uses the same terms in a scene later in the movie, a very touching Valentine’s Day date with her husband, that she is a spendthrift and gambling addict. It turns out she has a bit of a past as well as an unsavory present. The date is taking place in the restaurant where Yum first saw her and fell in love with that first look. She was a call girl but Yum had Chick, his ever menacing and always available bodyguard/assistant beat up her pimp and that was that.

That scene, although touching and wonderfully acted, shows the main shortcoming of “Cop on a Mission”. While the script tries to keep Mike’s plight with his growing alienation, fear and longing in view it also moves off into domestic drama with hyperbolic paens to the undying power of romantic love. It does wrench itself back to Mike’s story with each digression, occasionally throwing in a bonus of a shot of Daniel Wu’s bare butt or his almost superhuman ability to best his hand to hand combat instructor in a fight and then kill him with a magic garrote.

The supporting cast couldn’t be much better. Anya, whose career has been all over the place, did a great job as Gee, Mike’s loyal girlfriend who ends things when it looks as if he is becoming an outlaw. Veteran tough guys Frankie Ng, Wong Shu Tung (coiffed with a startling two-tone pompadour) and Tony Ho each bring the exactly correct combination of loyalty, barely confined insanity and lurking violence to their characters.

The ending if fitting, both for the movie and for Mike.
Reviewer Score: 7