Thunder Cops 2 (1989)

Of all the issues we’ve had with sequels here at the ISCFC, few are as unexpected as this. It’s a bit like, when they decided to make a sequel to “The Frighteners”, but then got John Woo to direct a version of “Requiem For A Dream” and just called that “The Frighteners 2”. I promise, whatever visual you have in your head of what such a movie would be is probably not as odd as “Thunder Cops 2”, because not only does it share some cast with its prequel (although they appear to be playing completely different characters) it also has the same writer / director!

It starts off with Officer Nam Tse (Sandra Ng) causing the death of her father thanks to her unpreparedness at a crime scene – she has no gun – and although this is at least a moderately standard cop thriller opening, it just goes downhill from there. She toughens up quickly, and when we next see her doing cop stuff she’s got a junkie informant who she’s supplying drugs for. The scene where the junkie’s boyfriend pops in and we see her getting taken from behind while Fong is hiding in a closet, only the junkie knows Fong can see and enjoys it, is mere preparation for what’s to come.

The plot is, Fong is desperately trying to get the guy who killed her dad, drug kingpin Fei Tsat. She loses her job, is arrested for murder, and then gets involved with the brother of one of Fei Tsat’s lieutenants, Siu Yien. There’s an insane set-piece battle at a wedding, lots of sadness and even a little good old traditional HK movie kung-fu in there to keep the popcorn crowd happy.

Perhaps the only reason any Western fan, other than idiots wanting to watch every movie where “Cop” or “Cops” is the last word of the title, is the appearance of Stephen Chow as Siu Yien. Chow was a few years away from the international stardom that “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle” would bring him, and even though he tries to do comedy bits, the crushing misery of the rest of the movie leaves his clowning feeling a little off-putting. Still, he’s the most interesting thing about this movie, even if he’s not in it quite so much as his billing would have you believe.

If “Thunder Cops 2” had been called something else, and just stood on its own, I think it’d have done a lot better. Okay, it’s very much a John Woo ripoff, but it’s dark and having two actors best known for comedy in the central roles is an interesting choice.

Before we leave each other for another day, a word about the subtitles. Be prepared to want to slap the person who did the translating, because it fails on every level. First, it feels like someone reading out the English to someone else, who only got one run at typing. Some of the English words are spelled way wrong, and a lot of others are just in the wrong place. You can’t help but think some of the characters are stupid, with the way they speak, and that’s just the translation’s fault.

A miserable, violent, almost good curio of a movie.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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