Legendary Hong Kong writer, director and one man cinematic production line Wong Jing returns with “Future X-Cops” a remake sequel of sorts to his 1993 cult trash classic “Future Cops”. Unsurprisingly, being very much a Wong Jing outing, the film is typically hard to classify, mixing in science fiction, action, romance, family melodrama and, of course, crude humour. The film is a bona fide stab at making a big budget Chinese blockbuster, with special visual effects from noted South Korean team Kinomotive and an all star cast headlined by the one and only Andy Lau, with support from the gorgeous Fan Bing Bing (“Sophie’s Revenge”), Barbie Hsu (“Connected”), Mike He (“Love at Seventh Sight”) and young actress Xu Jiao (recently in Stephen Chow’s “CJ7”).
The plot itself takes some swallowing. The film kicks off in the year 2080, with Andy Lau playing a cop called Kidd, who is entrusted with protecting scientist Dr. Masterson (Ma Jing Wu, “Confucius”), the inventor of a new, clean energy source. Unfortunately, although Kidd manages to save him from a group of genetically enhanced assassins, led by the evil Kalon (Fan Siu Wong, “Ip Man 2”), his own wife (Fan Bing Bing) dies in the process. When Kalon heads back in time to try and kill Masterson as a child, Kidd decides to follow, being transformed into a cyborg in the name of revenge. Arriving in the year 2020, and bringing his daughter (Xu Jiao) along for the ride, he assumes the role of a kind policeman, keeping his real identity and powers secret from fellow cops Holly (Barbie Hsu) and Sergeant Ma (Mike He) as he searches for the young Masterson. Soon enough, Kalon and his goons show up, leaving a trail of destruction behind them as they too try to track down the future scientist to be.
With Wong Jing as writer and director, although this synopsis may sound vaguely straightforward, “Future X-Cops” is very prone to weird tangents and needless subplots as he tries to cram in a little of pretty much every genre imaginable. As such, the film leaps around in amusingly chaotic fashion, beginning with futuristic action before diving headfirst into superhero shenanigans and childish comedy, then to bizarre romance as Kidd and Holly form a hilariously strained relationship, before finally finishing up with an avalanche of near surreal action. Of course, this is only to be expected from Wong Jing, and although borderline incoherent at times, the film is certainly never dull, and manages to keep viewers watching. The film’s jokes are a variable bunch, throwing in the expected pop culture references and slapstick toilet humour alongside a few rather baffling gags, which do translate into a few genuine laughs – though it has to be said that most of the film’s considerable amusement factor is somewhat less intentional. Indeed, it’s difficult to keep a straight face during the last third, as Wong Jing throws in all manner of odd twists and ill-conceived tugs at the heart strings, none of which are effective in a traditional manner, but all of which certainly entertain.
Strangely, despite the effort that apparently went into them, the same can be said of the special effects, most of which are howlingly substandard and make for some comically cringe worthy scenes. The sight of Andy Lau’s face superimposed on a cheap looking robotic body is one that really needs to be seen to be believed, as do a series of stupefyingly illogical and random effects based sequences – including a scene in which Lau and Fan Siu Wong’s wicked but idiotic villain go through lengthy transformations, only to emerge….slightly bigger. Ching Siu Tung’s choreography is as solid as ever and really gives the film a boost and a far slicker feel than it perhaps deserves. The film does pack in plenty of action, in particular towards the end, and this helps to keep things moving along at a decent clip, and possibly to distract some of the more bemused members of the audience from the overall lack of sense.
As a result, though undeniably a bit of a mess, and very much in the Wong Jing style, “Future X-Cops” is a lot of fun, especially for those with a fondness for nonsense. Whilst much of its entertainment factor may not be intentional, this is arguably neither here nor there, and the film manages considerably more laughs and enjoyment than many other more straight faced efforts of late, and at the very least, can surely be seen as a worthy follow up to the original “Future Cops”.
Jing Wong (director) / Jing Wong (screenplay)
CAST: Andy Lau … Kidd
Barbie Hsu … Miss Holly
Bingbing Fan … Millie
Jiao Xu … Kiki
Mike He … Sergeant Masterson
Siu-Wong Fan … Kalon
Yifei Tang … Fiona
Jingwu Ma … Dr. Masterson