Gen-X Cops
UNIVERSE
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Benny Chan
Year:
1999
Run Time:
110mins
Producer: Universe
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles:
Chinese (S&T), English
W/S Subtitles:
No
Ratio:
2.35:1 Non Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Action / Comedy - IIB
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MOVIE
8/10

Having heard so many differing views concerning this movie, I was at odds as to whether to pick it up or not...
Some have called it the best Hong Kong action film made in the last couple of years, others have lambasted it for being style-over-substance Hollywood Blockbuster rubbish.
After having seen it, I guess I fall between the two extremes - not loathing it, nor feeling that it's a revolution for the Hong Kong film industry.
What you get for your money are some great physical stunts, a genuinely appealing and talented cast, and the overriding feeling that all involved enjoyed the experience of making the movie.

The three main actors are very good, particularly Nicholas Tse, who handles his acting and action with some aplomb.
Stephen Fung is not such an imposing figure, with some of his lines falling flat, but as with the rest of the cast he's still very appealing to watch.
With Sam Lee bringing up the rear with his freaky hairdo and lanky frame, the Gen-X Cops style and swagger are what particularly grabbed my attention.
Even more impressive is the fact that they all performed numerous stunts without needing to be doubled, and in their short, yet well choreographed, fight scenes, handle themselves well - particularly Tse.

Aside from the principal players, there are a number of smaller performances which impress:
Francis Ng has a fine role as a rival Gang boss, and in a standout sequence shows an impressive command of English swearwords!
Daniel Wu occasionally seems out of his depth, and his English, although perfectly fluent, seemed stilted at times. However, I felt he improved from scene to scene, and could mature into a very good actor over the next few years.
The lone Japanese villain played by Toru Nakayama cuts an impressive figure, and provides a very interesting foil to the Gen-X cop's style. His morbid personality and seeming indifference to whether he lives or dies makes for a pleasant change from your standard "psychopathic madman", even though his character is handed a few unintentionally funny lines.

As with most films of this genre, the plot is of the usual 'Unpleasant villain is out to cause havoc, and the only ones who can stop him are the bad-ass cops' style.
Where this movie differs is in its many twists and turns, which not only help make the two hour running-time fly by, but also keep your attention from flagging.

The film's director, the extremely talented Benny Chan, provides some very impressive action set-pieces as well as a lot of entertaining interplay between the many characters, good and bad, who feature throughout.
However, the film does have flaws. Certain scenes feel rather overdone and cheesy, and the way in which characters seemingly "forgot" tragic instances which only occurred a few minutes beforehand, rather spoilt some of the more dramatic moments.

However, Gen-X Cops is a film which outdoes many of Hollywood's recent and not so recent Blockbusters (and by a long way). Partnered with the general likeability of the cast, it provides a thoroughly entertaining way to spend two hours of your time...oh, it's also given me my first opportunity to meet the lovely/gorgeous/sexy/beautiful Jaymee Ong, so the the film's an added bonus!

PICTURE
10/10

How is it that Universe are so completely, and comprehensively ahead of any other Hong Kong DVD company?
This transfer once again proves their superiority by presenting the film in near perfect fashion, and was an absolute pleasure to watch from start to finish.
A few scenes contained a bit of grain but other than that, this Dual-Layer disc is a cut above any other Hong Kong DVD I've seen.

The cinematography is impressive throughout the production, and the disc translates this aspect perfectly, with a rich palette of colours, and no signs of bleeding.
Detail is simply superb, with the picture looking crisp and cinematic, and the lack of any print damage make this a definite "show-off" disc.

SOUND
9/10

Having been filmed in synch-sound Dolby Digital, the audio on this disc is some of the best I've heard on a Hong Kong disc, and is the equal to many US discs.
Bullets fly around the speakers, explosions rumble from left to right, and the general sound elements envelop you from the start - a truly impressive experience.
However, dialogue can be somewhat indistinct at times, with some distortion creepy in.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Considering the US version of this disc was dub-titled, I was generally pleased with the subs.
The overall standard of the translations, and grammar is very good, although minor errors appear frequently.
However, one thing did irritate me slightly...Whenever someone swore in English the subtitles translated the offending f**ks as "damn"! OK, so you could argue that if you're listening to a piece of English dialogue then you shouldn't need to read to the subs.
I'd counter this by saying that as the film contains large amounts of English, it's not always easy to switch your attention away from the subs when the languages change.

MENUS
8/10

Yet another surprise are the menus, which are fully animated, and creatively put together.
My only only gripe with these fancy selection screens is that the highlighted buttons don't always highlight.
At first, I thought the disc had locked-up, but you can still select the different options without getting a visual reference to what you're highlighting, by using either the number or arrow keys.
Pretty much everything about this disc screams quality, and the menus are just another quality component to a Universe disc far in advance of just about any other Hong Kong release to date.

EXTRAS
9/10

Finally, a disc that actually has got bonefide extras!
It was almost unnerving the first time I went through the disc's menus. I was expecting the usual Star Files, Theatrical trailer etc. and instead I was greeted by a plethora of bonus goodies.
Now, here's the really impressive bit - ALL the extras are available with Removable English and Chinese subtitles.
The translations frequently contain grammar and spelling errors, but they are never incoherent, and are very readable.

Below is a full breakdown of the extras:-

Cast and Credit
Animated biographies for Benny Chan, Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Daniel Wu, Sam Lee, Toru Nakamura, Grace Yip and Jaymee Ong (YAY!).
Each one of these Star Files includes two additional mini Q and A sessions, or behind the scenes footage.
Disappointingly, Eric Tsang isn't given any coverage in this section.

Production Diary
A fairly interesting journey through the films life, from pre-production through to the Gala Premiere. It runs for about 6 minutes.

Film Magic
This feature runs for 9 minutes, and goes behind the scenes in order to give you a glimpse of how many of the stunts and special effects were created, along with footage of the actors rehearsing their dialogue.

Making Of
The self-explanatory title of this feature is a healthy 13 minutes, and includes interviews with the cast and crew - their perspectives on certain aspects of the movie and yet more behind the scenes footage

Unseen Footage
A total of 8 scenes which never made it into the final cut, are provided in this section. Each reel of footage lasts for about 3 minutes, and although quite interesting, the decision to omit them from the film was probably the correct one.

Trailers and TV Spots
A teaser trailer, two theatrical trailers and two TV spots.

Audio Commentary
Yep, you read this right - a full length commentary that features most of the cast chatting about their views and experiences of filming. However, much of their dialogue is not specific to the scene being shown, and is occasionally a repeat of the interviews used in the Star Files section.
Although there are a few moments of prolonged silence, the commentary is otherwise very informative and revealing, and I'd definitely recommend dipping into this for extended periods after having watched the film.

PACKAGING
8/10

The attractive front cover, with its excellently composed artwork immediately catches the eye. The back cover doesn't fare quite so well, with a fairly average plot synopsis.
The strangest aspect of the packaging is the design on the DVD itself. The very plain purple text is a big disappointment considering the superb job Universe have done in other areas of the films presentation.

CONCLUSION
9/10

Granted, this is not going to be to the liking of every Hong Kong film fan, but if you're after a not totally mindless action movie, with beautiful women and attractive men throwing themselves around whilst spouting funny dialogue and wearing cool clothes, you'll need look no further.
Sure it's not going to change your view on the state of the World, or provide you with the meaning of life, but as a thoroughly entertaining popcorn movie, you'll be easily getting your money's worth.

Also, this is the only disc I've yet to see which is truly comparable to a US release in terms of extras, and for the ridiculously low price this can be picked up for it's most definitely a recommended purchase...oh, and did I mention Jaymee Ong's in it?!!?

MOVIE
8/10
PICTURE
10/10
SOUND
10/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
9/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
8/10
OVERALL
9/10