Friday, February 8, 2013

I Corrupt All Cops

I Corrupt All Cops (HK 2009)

In HK the ICAC is the feared (by wrong-doers anyway) anti-corruption force and this film purports to document it's creation and how it broke the back of endemic police corruption in HK in the 1970s. Well it is a Wong Jing movie so historical accuracy may not be 100%... However this is Wong Jing in "good work mode" keeping the racism and sexual weirdness to a minimum and the film, whilst not flawless, is a very enjoyable piece of HK movie drama.

The film centres around Tak, a police man so bent its untrue, and his fellow corrupt cops as they take back handers, bribes and basically run the triads. Tak, played by Tony Leung Ka-Fai, largely does what he likes. Apart from when his British superior demands a crime crackdown so he orders Anthony Wong to catch some criminals and if he can't catch them, frame someone. That is exactly what happens when Alex Fong is framed and tortured and only avoids going to jail for various fitted up crimes by a bit more corruption. Eason Chan plays a younger cop who is Tak's yesman. Eason is a man without any real honour, doing as his dailo orders even to the extent of taking in all of his ex-mistresses.

Things have to change though when Tak starts to get too carried away and the British order the creation of the ICAC to be headed by Bowie Lam and one of the first recruits in Alex Fong. Anthony Wong, by now fallen out of favour with Tak, is also recruited to turn gamekeeper from poacher. Yet despite the fact he tortured Alex Fong earlier in the film the fact is never mentioned or even hinted at which is quite odd and a bit lazy.

The war between the corrupt cops and ICAC is vicious and bloody but can only end in one way and in the end characters like Eason have to decide if they have any self-respect or not.

So is this movie any good? Yes it is. Its a near-modern period piece but unlike some other TV and films set in the 1970s/80s it doesn't try and set the scene lazily with a gratuitous array of product placements. The story is good though also pretty violent (including a couple of torture scenes) and slightly weird (Wong Jing nuff said). Some rather key moments in ICAC history are rather brushed aside or ignored but this is entertainment not a documentary and it is indeed very entertaining with some good performances.
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