In a genre and era rife with sexism and homophobia, it takes a special movie to really stand out from the crowd. “City Cops” is that movie, though, with numerous scenes that left me open-mouthed with amazement that, even in 1989, this was seen as acceptable. I really don’t know where to start – it can’t be the plot, because it makes no sense, and it can’t be the acting, because it’s all terrible, and the dubbing is done by the same two guys and one woman for the entirety of the cast, leading to the unusual sensation of most conversations sounding like one guy talking to himself.
Cynthia Rothrock, who deserved far far better than this, is FBI agent Cindy (no surname given). Some guy they need for some reason is in Hong Kong, so she’s asked to go over there and pick him up. On her own, with seemingly no “hey, local police, we’re on our way” communication beforehand. When she gets there, she meets two local cops who seem way more bothered about trying to pick up women than they do with showing even the most basic level of competence at their jobs – I’ll call them Sex Pest and Moron, because I honestly don’t remember their names in the movie. The Captain demands that she be subservient to him, and she agrees because she’s a woman and women should absolutely not do or say anything to contradict a man.
Right, we’ve established the basics. A huge chunk of sexism to start the movie off, the sort of sexism that just thinks it’s the normal way of the world, which is even worse. But the worst is yet to come, and it centres around the FBI informant. We meet him, dressed as a woman (let’s call him Cross-Dresser), in a shopping mall. Sex Pest and Moron are trying to track down someone who’s been molesting women in the mall, and this criminal feels up Cross-Dresser, and when he’s arrested says because he tried to molest a man, it doesn’t count – so they just trip him up and he falls, hands first, onto an old lady, which counts as molesting in their book.
The two cops realise that Cross-Dresser is the guy that Agent Cindy is looking for, so decide for reasons unknown to take him to dinner. At one point, Moron drinks from Cross-Dresser’s glass of water, to which he says “aren’t you afraid I have AIDS?” After a solid few minutes of homophobia, Cross-Dresser (seeing an opportunity to escape, although why he’d want to is never mentioned) claims he was Rock Hudson’s boyfriend, and while Sex Pest is off scrubbing himself with bleach, Cross-Dresser disgusts Moron so much he’s allowed to go off to the bathroom on his own, so escapes. Sex Pest comes back to the table, shouts “where’s the queer?” and Moron says he didn’t want to accompany him to the bathroom, for fear “he’d probably rape me up the bum”. And scene!
Now, it seems way more likely that Cross-Dresser was dressed as a woman in order to avoid the police, not because he was gay. There’s quite a lot of scenes where the dubbing makes no sense, indicating that some plot changes have occurred from the original Hong Kong movie…but then again, who knows? Zero reference is made to his sexuality again, and he spends the rest of the movie in “male” clothes.
Sex Pest and Moron, because they’re bored of Cindy, decide to play a trick on her, selling her as a prostitute to a local loan shark while they’re in a bar. Sex Pest then comes on to one of the waitresses, who according to the movie just happens to be Cross-Dresser’s sister…his preferred seduction technique (one shared by Jackie Chan in a lot of his Hong Kong movies) is to hover a hair’s breadth from sexual assault until the woman relents. Plus there’s a Japanese yakuza gang knocking about, although if you held a gun to my head I wouldn’t be able to tell you what their relation to the rest of the plot is.
As the film wheezes on, Sex Pest gets his girl, and then while on a stakeout, Moron gets a kicking so, for reasons I will never understand, Cindy gives him a good massage. As she’s rubbing his chest, her face appears to be trying to convey a growing romantic attachment, and even though he’s an awful cop, an awful human being and has a face like a smacked arse, they start a relationship. I mean, you can’t have a woman in a movie without her needing a man to complete her as a person! Haha!
There’s a decent fight at the end, but it’s too little, too late. It’s best thought of as a horrible relic from a less enlightened time (even though 1989 is way too late for this sort of garbage to be acceptable), and unless you’re a Rothrock completist, best steer clear of this one.
Rating: thumbs down