I don’t know where to begin with this one. The movie is embarrassing on so many levels. As far as bad sequels go, this is one of the worst. Helmsman Benny Chan takes everything entertaining about Gen-X Cops and proceeds not to use it. Gone is the snarky humor, the playful camaraderie, the enthusiasm of youthful rebellion, the emotionally wrought bad guy and, come to think of it, the emotionally wrought good guy. Instead we get cartoonish villains and buffoonish heroes, a static plot (for an action movie), pitiful acting, and abominable English. Truly, you are better off watching an episode of Power Rangers. At least it’s shorter.
One of the highlights in the original was the characters, and the actors who portrayed them. While the leading trio played to type – Jack (Nicholas Tse) as the brooding hero, Match (Stephen Fung) as the smarmy playboy, and Alien (Sam Lee) as the eccentric goofball – they all had a touch of vulnerability that made them easy to sympathize with. They didn’t care about bending and breaking rules, but, against their better logic, they cared about doing the right thing. Unfortunately, this movie jettisons Jack in favor of one preening and cocksure Edison (Edison Chen). The latter also flouts his devil may care attitude, but he – Edison the character and the actor – does so with the smugness of the cool kid struttin’ down a high school hallway. Even his conflicted attempts to reconcile his friendship with a sinister inventor with his duties as a police officer seem put on. For the returning characters Match and Alien, absent their friend, they regress into hyperactive Gen-Yers who seem more at home leaping around a bouncy castle than doing the difficult and thankless task of taking down criminals.
It’s hard to blame them for their lack of seriousness though. Whereas Inspector Chan provided some much needed mentoring in the first movie, there are no responsible adults in this house. Christy Chung turns in a baffling performance as a police inspector who liaises with visiting FBI officers. I don’t know what Western, colonial playworld the writers imagined for her character, but she’s part kittenish Asian babe and part kowtowing bootlicker. It’s as frustrating for the audience as it is for Match and Alien that they are relegated to secondary characters and that they are wasted as errand boys for their fawning superior.
All because the brash Americans, led by Agent Ian Curtis (Paul Rudd, who must have been one paycheck away from the poor house), are in town to safeguard the RS-1, a high tech automaton that shoots lasers and things and can pick up a jiggly block of tofu. Agent Curtis is a grade A jerk in a way that many people probably imagine American government officials are. Rudd abandons his cuddly persona and snarls his way through the movie. In the interests of balanced filmmaking, Maggie Q plays a more sympathetic Agent Jane Quigley, but her primary task is to look gorgeous, which she succeeds in doing.
When the robot is promptly stolen by its inventor Kurt (Richard Sun), everyone gives chase not realizing that he is one very angry kid. The filmmakers could have done something here – maybe given him a few moments of introspection, maybe play him off a villainous mentor, maybe found a better actor. He is all worked up because his designs were stolen by the U.S. government and his friend Edison tries to talk him out of crazy, but Kurt isn’t having any of that. Wronged and unwise to the disappointments of adult life, he is out to cause some metal mayhem (the movie’s subtitle)! He directs his creature to mow down everything, unleashing a wave of terror and, more regrettably, a torrent of really awful English onto the streets of Hong Kong. The action sequences feel more perfunctory than inspired but there are robots, so I suppose that’s an added bonus. Some people may prefer the techy effects in this movie to the traditional shoot ‘em up in the first one, though I do not. What no one wants, however, is the scandalous abuse of language. Sun and Chen are the worst offenders with a painful need to emphasize every curse word so they seem gangsta. “Shiiiiit, man,” that – and this movie – are so unnecessary.
“Heroes” (要來便來) – theme song by Edison Chen, if you’re feeling dangerous:
Alternate Title: Metal Mayhem; Gen-X Cops 2
Prod: John Chong 莊澄; Solon So 蘇志鴻; Benny Chan 陳木勝
Dir: Benny Chan 陳木勝
Writer: Chan Kiu-Ying 陳翹英; Felix Chong 莊文強; Bey Logan 龍比意
Cast: Edison Chen 陳冠希; Stephen Fung 馮德倫; Sam Lee 李燦森; Richard Sun 孫國豪; Maggie Q 李美琪; Paul Rudd; Mark Hicks; Christy Chung 鍾麗緹; Vincent Kok 谷德昭; Cheung Tat-Ming 張達明; Anthony Wong 黃秋生; Eric Kot 葛民輝; Rachel Ngan 顏穎思; Hyper BB 茜利妹
Time: 120 min
Lang: Cantonese, really shitty English
Country: Hong Kong