People tend to have very strong views when it comes to police officers. But whether you like or loathe them, there’s one area historically we all agree with – we all love Buddy Cop movies. The concept of two ‘mismatched’ police officers from ‘different sides of the tracks’, thrown together against their will has been a prominent feature in films for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of this genre was Lethal Weapon. These two officers couldn’t be more different in terms of their backgrounds, beliefs and life. The differences are fun to watch because not only do we secretly enjoy the drama of two people not getting along, but it also serves as a gentle reminder that even though Officers wear the same uniform, they are still very much individuals underneath.
There have been many movies made under this banner. Films like Tango and Cash, Hot Fuzz, Beverley Hills Cop and 48hours all follow the same formula with varying levels of success. So what are the ingredients that make these films work? What’s the special sauce that makes the great ones so successful and most importantly, who wears the crown?
To work it out, i’ll only consider films with two or more movies in their series. I’m going to look at, in my opinion three of the best in the genre: Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour and Bad Boys.
Round 1: Different Worlds
A great Cop buddy movie needs two officers who are from completely different backgrounds, have little understanding of each others world, purly relying on just the stereotypes. The bigger the cultural gap the better/funnier. This round goes to Rush Hour. The gap between the fast talking LA cop and the upright disciplined Chinese officer made for a massive hilarious bridge to cross. Adding the slight language barrier made it even better.
Round 2: Still got a job to do
It’s great throwing two people into crazy situations and watching what happens but sometimes being to ‘far out’ there can take away from the believability of the partnership. Lethal Weapon takes this round as regardless of what was going on, it always felt grounded in the reality of real police work. The things they did affected the job and their colleagues
Round 3: Lights, Camera, Action
These films are supposed to excite, entertain and get our pulses racing. This was a close call and might come down to how you like your action. Fans of hand to hand combat/martial arts will definitely pick Rush hour but Bad Boys edges past it and takes this round due to the huge set pieces, coordinated slick stunts and massive explosions. Basically more bang for your buck!
Round 4: We’ve got Chemistry
These films live or die based on the our investment in the partnership. Do we like watching these two together, interacting? Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan’s bond develops so organically, its a joy to watch. It feels like two new best friends pushing each other to try new things. When they are both on screen we don’t know what they are going to say or do. Their situations are exciting and unpredictable, we enjoy it and keep watching to see what crazy scenario they get into next. Rush Hour is the winner in this round
Round 5: Laugh out Loud
It’s not just about being funny. You could put a comedian with any other actor and expect some funny scenarios. But in the best Cop buddy movies, the comedy comes from the interactions between both characters. I wouldn’t describe either Mel Gibson or Danny Glovers’ character as funny in lethal weapon. In Rush Hour, Chris Tucker provides majority of the laughs while Jacky Chan brings the action. Bad Boys takes this round because the synergy between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence produces great and consistent comedic timing. The laughs come from both of them and fits perfectly
Round 6: Classic Lines
This round is easy. Whilst Badboys has some great comedic dialogue and Chris Tuckers lines are always hilarious, neither of them have a line as iconic and timeless as “I’m too old for this Sh*t. Round goes to Lethal Weapon
So it’s a tie, all three films score 2 points. If I was forced to pick, I’d have to go with Rush Hour, I love martial arts and cultural misunderstandings. Rush Hour has those in spades. Also some good news for fans, production has finally started on Rush Hour 4!