Gen-X Cops (1999)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee, Grace Ip
Extras: Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers
Jackie Chan has become a seal of quality for action films a long time ago. While he is developing his own future projects, Chan also has enough time to make sure he is actively establishing a new cadre of action films that ensure the future of the genre that made him famous. Hardly surprising, Media Asia – and Columbia TriStar – are using the name Jackie Chan quite heavily in conjunction of one of their latest releases "Gen-X Cops" to make sure the movie gets plenty of attention. It certainly got mine, and I am glad it did. "Gen-X Cops" turns out to introduce a new generation of Hong Kong action movies to fans.
Hong Kong police is breaking an underground ring of smugglers and weapons-dealers and confiscate a large amount of explosives. But they also realize that once again they missed to crack down on the man who really pulls the threats, the man who now has a large amount of rocket-fuel in his hands, the Japanese crime lord Akatura.
While the regular police forces try to get their hands on Akatura, a small Special Ops team is recruited from a group of reckless young police academy graduates. While no one has faith in their abilities to bring Akatura to justice, the three young men manage to infiltrate the Hong Kong underground, which eventually leads them straight into the lion’s den. Before they can emotionally or physically prepare for the meeting, they come face-to-face with the Japanese mobster and even become henchmen to his system. Now, the Hong Kong police begins to doubt even the young cops’ integrity and declares their own men outlaws. The only way to prove their honesty for these three young cops is to present Akatura to the police forces on a silver platter. But the ruthless crime lord has other plans.
"Gen-X Cops" is a furious, wall-to-wall action spectacle extraoridinaire. Although Jackie Chan was obviously only marginally involved in the project as one of the film’s producers, the film features the same good-humored nature as his own films, and his own cameo appearance in the film adds to that – although for a few seconds.
The film also shows how Hong Kong cinema is evolving, creating a new breed of action films in which martial arts take more of a backseat. Plenty of gunplay, car chases and full-body stunts are the recipe that drive "Gen-X Cops", and composited against the pounding music they create a racy film that certainly appeals to younger audiences than the more traditional "Crime And Triad" genre movies. The film even goes as far as bending some of the rules of the genre itself, by bringing in influences of other cultures, throwing a lot of Canadian and Japanese characters in the mix with great results.
Nonetheless, even for fans of the more traditional movies, "Gen-X Cops" has a lot to offer. The no-holds-barred action, the rash dialogues and the good-cop/bad-cop scenario are trademarks of these films and root this new entry firmly in the genre. No Hong Kong movie comes without humor, and "Gen-X Cops" too features some great tongue-in-cheek humor, as well as funny situations and highly entertaining characters.
Columbia TriStar Home Video has once again been very faithful to the original movie with this release, bringing us "Gen-X Cops" in a beautiful and authentic DVD version. Running 113 minutes, the film does not appear to be cut, and also comes with the original Cantonese language track, as well as an English dub. The movie is presented in a beautiful <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> transfer that contains a high level of detail and is mostly free of any film artifacts. The color reproduction is superb, bringing much of the colorful settings and cinematography to full life, giving the viewer the feeling that the heat is just a little hotter, every time an explosion is set off on the screen. Skin tones are very faithfully rendered and the disc’s great black level creates deep shadows that never wash out and level every bit of detail intact. As expected, the compression on the film has been done very carefully without introducing any compression artifacts, and the complete lack of edge-enhancement gives the presentation a very film-like, warm appearance.
The DVD features a very active and aggressive 5.1 <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix in English and Cantonese. The disc defaults to the English dub in <$DS,Dolby Surround> however, so don’t forget to switch to the correct audio track for your viewing pleasure. The <$5.1,5.1 mix>es are surprisingly active, creating a very wide sound image. Using the discrete surrounds aggressively you will hear bullets fly around your head many times, and more than once I was cocking my head to check if the noises I heard from behind me actually came from the speakers. The track has a very good bass extension that creates some impressive low ends for the film and given the many explosions in the film, get ready for quite a bit of punch from your subwoofer.
Dialogue is well integrated – at least in the Chinese language mix that I checked because I can’t bear listening to dubbed English tracks for more than a few seconds – and the lines were always clear land understandable, never being drowned out by the massive sound effects or the music. A few slight distortions were noticeable in certain dialogue lines, which sounded like distortion that occurred during the actual recording. It is noticeable that this film has a modern approach not only in its content presentation but also in its technical prowess, as it is the best-sounding Hong Kong film I have heard so far!
The disc also features a great documentary that takes you behind the scenes of the production. Spiced up with many interviews with cast and crew members, this is a valuable addition to the film, as it shows many of the spectacular scenes of the movie from a slightly different angle, removed from the streamlined glamour of the final prints. The featurette also contains a music video and the film’s teaser trailer. A series of deleted scenes is also part of the release, and although their quality is not quite as good as the feature presentation, they are great and fun to watch, especially once you’ve seen the movie. The release is topped off with the movie’s theatrical trailer.
Where other Hollywood majors regularly butcher Hong Kong movies, Columbia TriStar is showing us once again that these films have indeed a market here in the US without being mutilated or force-domesticized. "Gen-X Cops" marks the next generation of Hong Kong action movies, just as "The Storm Riders" marked a new era of Hong Kong fantasy films. Using traditional elements, modern day technology and an updated cast, these films can easily outpace most American action film. "Gen-X cops" may not be the best genre entry and its pacing is a little slow at times, but it is nonetheless vastly entertaining and comes highly recommended. Thanks to Columbia’s superb treatment of the film on DVD, fans of the genre get to witness "Gen-X Cops" in all its glory, with all its humor and martial arts, as well as the ballistic action intact!