22 June 2020 | Movie-Misfit
Underrated Hong Kong Action Comedy!!
Kicking off in the US, with Ken Tong Chun Yip being captured and tortured by some gangsters in a beautifully lit, abandoned warehouse at night, we get straight to the action with FBI investigator Cynthia Rothrock, busting in to save him. After a brief, but fun fight, Tong escapes and heads back to Hong Kong. Once in there, Tong falls under the protection of 2 bumbling cops in the shape of the hilarious Shing Fui On, and charming Michael Mui. This happens after they arrest him during a groping incident while Tong was in drag, and soon leads to some very non-PC, crazy comedy scenes, full of gay innuendo's, AIDS jokes, and flirting as Tong keeps up the gay man act. It isn't long though, before he escapes their company and disappears. Rothrock soon arrives on the scene and joins the cops in their search for him and the much-wanted micro-film, he happens to have!
Of course, things aren't so simple with Japanese gangsters getting involved which leads to some fantastic action scenes, plenty of hilarity, and a great finale between Rothrock and the wonderful Michiko Nishiwaki...
Released in the UK as Beyond The Law, to feed off the success of her earlier hits Above The Law (Righting Wrongs) and Above The Law 2 (The Blonde Fury), Hong Kong action-comedy City Cops is, to me, such an underrated Hong Kong film that I highly enjoy. Packed with some great comedy sequences, and a number of fun fight scenes, Beyond The Law is a lot of fun, and probably ignored by a lot of Rothrock fans, and those who love the femme-fatale sub-genre of HK cinema. I love the pairing of Mui and On as the awkward cops, the love relationship between Shing and Rothrock, and think this is probably the coolest Cynthia has ever looked in a Hong Kong film, with costumes actually complimenting for once, and her hair only changing a couple of times.
When it comes to the fight scenes of course, Cynthia does not disappoint. Director and star in his own right, the great Lau Kar Wing, leads the team with Ridley Tsui supporting as choreographer, and the likes of Hung Yan Yan and Dion Lam behind them on stunts. And while its not bursting with action every 5 minutes, there's still plenty going on, with some great choreography and moves on show. The cast is pretty sweet too with the aforementioned stars joined by a host of gwailo baddies such as Mark Houghton from any number of Girls-With-Guns flicks, John Ladalski from Armour Of God and Ninja The Protector, Wayne Archer also from Armour, and Ken Goodman from the Catman movies. Hong Kong regular Wu Fung stars as the commanding officer to the cops, with Shikamura Yasuyoshi from God Of Gamblers and Killers Romance as the gangster boss, and the great Michiko Nishiwaki as his main weapon. Its definitely not a boring cast.
As with most Hong Kong films of this period, Beyond The Law certainly has its flaws, but totally entertains in many respects. The classic English dub does add to this I have to admit, with some cracker lines that have me howling every time. From its comedy to fight scenes, stunt-work to memorable theme tune, this was a film I loved to watch over and over again when I first got it in my early teens. Its also great to see the late, great Shing Fui On in a good guy role rather than the extreme, angry gangster he usually plays. His relationship with Rothrock is also hilarious!
The only downside for me is that Nishiwaki only appears for the last 20 minutes or so, but in doing so, allows for a fantastic end battle with Rothrock in a warehouse, which does the job and highly entertains, with some of her more acrobatic moves artfully doubled by Hong Kong's finest. Its a fight from the genre that is often overlooked, unfortunately, and while shorter than expected, should be seen more as one of Cindy's great Hong Kong finales...
Overall: It'll never go down as one of the best, but Beyond The Law is a lot of fun with some great fights and plenty of laughs!