Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Corruptor

The best thing about The Corruptor, the second American action movie starring Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-Fat, is its New York Chinatown locations. Other than that, not much sets it apart from other cop films. Chow plays a corrupt cop on the Chinatown beat whose shady routines are compromised by new partner Mark Wahlberg. Once it becomes clear that two warring Chinese gangs are just using him as a pawn, Chow starts to have a change of heart, but his relationship with Wahlberg makes a clean break all but impossible. Director James Foley (Fear, Who's That Girl?), helming his first shoot-'em-up, lacks the grace of Hong Kong king John Woo, and much of The Corruptor, from the plot to the setpieces, seems assembled at random. The naturally charismatic Chow can only get the film so far, and Wahlberg constantly looks like he's on the verge of dozing off. And with good reason: Most damning for an action movie is The Corruptor's distinct lack of action. The film gets so bogged down in setting up the occasional car chase or prostitution bust that it all just becomes boring. Chow and Wahlberg have about as much chemistry as bread and water, and Wahlberg's father/conscience Brian Cox serves as a lame narrative device that pops up every once and a while with no warning. The Hong King films Chow made with Woo were great in part because they knowingly toyed with action conventions. These Americanized versions miss the point by drawing from the same movies Woo so effectively updated.


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