Well, that was forgettable.
“My name’s Jack, like in a deck of card. You can call me Jack or you can just jack off.”
“Jack shit is what you are.”
Last year I spotlighted Benny Chan’s odd mess of a sequel Jackie Chan Presents Gen X Cops 2: Metal Mayhem (also known as Gen-Y Cops because Benny Chan doesn’t know how generations work). It was the sort of dumb film that was fun for about fifteen minutes because the CG was laughably bad, and it starred Paul Rudd with hair like instant ramen. Gen X Cops, released a year before, is technically a better film but it lacks any of the titular metal mayhem and gives us a film no one is likely to remember the moment they put something else on.
The film stars Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung and Sam Lee as Jack, Match and Alien; a trio of rookie cops whose bad behaviour had them kicked out. After the murder of a high-ranking gangster by his own brother Daniel (Daniel Wu), working for Yakuza boss Akatora (Toru Nakamura), the police decide to send a team in to infiltrate Daniel’s gang. Inspector Chan, something of a laughing stock in the police, decides to push the three rookies for the job. Action ensues.
Gen-X Cops has all the makings of a decent Hong Kong crime film: a decent villain, a loveable but goofy protagonist, a handful of rule-breaking cops and some fun action sequences. The acting is nothing special: Eric Tsang does his usual likeable dingus routine, and the others play tough-talking rookie cops exactly the way you’re imagining. This film has the curse of being about as ordinary as it gets.
The film is built around the typical cliches you’ve come to expect, with the three main Gen X Cops more caricatures of tough-talking youth, and are played with about as much subtlety. Tse, Fung and Lee are all having a ball with Tse clearly enjoying it the most, and their interactions and chemistry with Grace Yip’s Y2K (a fourth member of the team) are all pretty solid. Tsang’s Chan is a weaker version of the bumbling idiot he’s been playing since his Lucky Stars days, but still fun to watch.
At the very least the action sequences are good. They are a bit few and far between, at least compared to other movies in the genre, but are nevertheless the saving grace of the movie. Chan has always been good at showcasing fight sequences and this is no exception. The actors all throw themselves into the roles and into the action, which makes for some pretty kenetic scenes in what would otherwise be a fairly dull police film.
At the end of the day, it would be tricky to find reasons to recommend this film, simply because everyone involved have since been in or made much better things. Eric Tsang gave a standout performance in Infernal Affairs only four years later, Nicholas Tse and Benny Chan have collaborated on a tonne of projects including Rob-B-Hood and New Police Story and while Rob-B-Hood isn’t great, it’s much more entertaining than Gen X Cops. Watch this if you really want to know the buildup to the first fifteen minutes of Metal Mayhem.
Verdict: Generic, badly executed and forgettable, give this one a miss.
The Asian Cinema Critic’s Patented Ratings System:
Overall enjoyability: 4/10
Violence: 5/10 for some cool kung-fu kicks
Parachute gunfights: 1
Paul Rudds sporting terrible haircuts: 0
Gen X Cops (1999)
Also known as: 特警新人類 (Dak ging san yan lui)
Director: Benny Chan
Writer: Benny Chan, Koan Hui, Yee-Wah Lee, Peter Tsi
Nicholas Tse – Jack
Stephen Fung – Match
Sam Lee – Alien
Grace Yip – Y2K
Eric Tsang – Inspector Chan
Daniel Wu – Daniel
Toru Nakamura – Akatora
Terence Yin – Tooth
Francis Ng – Lok
Jaymee Ong – Haze