Monday, 24 November 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1998: Anthony Wong in Beast Cops

Anthony Wong did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tung in Beast Cops.

Beast Cops is a bit of an odd film to be sure. It's much more of an odd couple type of comedy about three very different cops living in the same apartment than it is about the power struggle of a local Triad. I rather enjoyed the film for its oddness actually even though it does have a very bland lead performance, and some pretty unintentionally funny sound effects.

The bland lead performance belongs to Michael Wong who plays the new officer of the group Michael Cheung. Wong's always slightly awkward performance, that involves some truly random moments where he speaks English, is not quite as detrimental to the film as it could have been because at least Cheung is suppose to be an extreme straight arrow, but this does leave the character wholly overshadowed by Officer Tung played by Anthony Wong the true star of the film. It's too bad there's no Lieutenant in the Hong Kong Police because Tung wouldn't fit too badly into the mold of a bad lieutenant, although closer to Nicolas Cage's version rather than Harvey Kietel's. Although he might be best described as lazy Lieutenant, as his corruption seems from mostly a lack of caring but Tung's life as a cop certainly involves drinking, using drugs, some prostitution, very casually taking bribes, and having far too comfortable of a relationship with the local Triad members.

Anthony Wong is in top form from the first scene by not being in particularly top form. Wong was apparently actually ill while filming the movie and this only contributes in making Tung the spent type of cop he is. In the opening scenes he's barely at all interested in doing what is required of a cop as Wong is very good in portraying Tung's manner of just basically going through the motions of being a cop. Wong is great though because he does not make Tung just a big nothing though and he's particularly good in portraying the sorta attempted manner to be the cop while failing to really fulfill his duties. Wong brings that certain boisterousness about Tung as if Tung is still the king of his neighborhood, and has any importance at all in his position even though he's basically nothing. Wong brings the right sort of wholly pathetic quality about Tung's routine as he feigns getting involved in a triad murder, but in fact just goes along and warns his friend in the Triad to get out of town. 

We are then introduced to the other Wong's character who first meets Tung at a nightclub. Wong, the better Wong that is, is actually quite funny in his scenes where Tung is doing his best to kinda maneuver around his new boss and make him feel comfortable in his own way. Tung's first attempt is to make him not notice his considerable corruption by trying to have him as good of a time as possible. Wong's quite the delight as he portrays Tung over enthusiastic manner as he brings so much energy in Tung's attempt at making everything just too good for his new boss. I particularly love the moment where Tung abruptly stops his crusade when he hears that Cheung needs a place to stay. Wong is hilarious as he so abruptly shifts to a more serious tone, of sorts, as Tung offers his own room to Cheung. This is only the beginning for their weird partnership, and I have to say I only wish the other Wong was a better straight man for Anthony Wong, since I think these scenes could have reached an even higher height.

The hijinks only continue in their scenes where Cheung and Tung go on patrol and Cheung expects a bit more discipline in his unit than they are used to. Wong again is great as he portrays the mostly brainless attempt by Tung to seem like he's doing something when randomly beats up someone to show his measure. The best moment though is when a real crime is occurring right near him and Wong's reaction is rather hilarious as Tung's first question is to ask if someone is filming around there. Wong continues to be quite entertaining though when we see Cheung and Tung in their apartment together, where Wong has to make occasional requests of his old bedroom in order to have his time with his prostitute relationship he's having. Wong always manages to make Tung's antics surprisingly endearing as brings such an earnestness to his foolishness, that is made only funnier because Tung is a cop.

The film shifts to a more serious tone though when Cheung stops actually doing his job trying to take down the local Triad. Although I don't think the other Wong gets along all the well with the tonal shift, the better Wong thrives along with it despite being the funniest performer in the humorous scenes. Wong has a terrific short moment where Tung threatens the under boss for an attack on Cheung which causes the under boss to remind Tung of his corruption. Wong's brings the intensity of the moment to life especially as he quickly reflects the guilt and forced hesitation as Tung basically recognizes what he is for a moment. Things only get worse though when the Triad boss, who had been on the run, is killed in a power struggle leaving Tung to finally take action. Tung pumps himself on all sorts of things and basically goes into kill the man making for one amazing scene for Anthony Wong.

Wong is outstanding in this scene as he becomes almost a personification of vengeance as Tung finally decides to try to make things right. Wong though still makes him the same Tung, and in this he shows it as a bit of a madness in Tung which is only additionally made worse by the drugs and alcohol in his system. What makes Wong so effective is how he shows the substances as part of Tung's madness as he becomes almost like a terminator as he shrugs off various stabbings to try to corner the man he's after. It's a brilliant scene for Wong since he makes the insanity of the scene so absolutely the Tung he created for the rest of the film, and he successfully bridges the character to this point. Wong I would say is easily the highlight of the entire film as he just goes with the material in a way that any of the actors are not able to compete with. Wong makes Tung quite the memorable and rather likable dirty cop to follow through the film and he's especially good due to the way he manages to mediate between the humor and the drama of the material so well.

46 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

New prediction:

1. Bridges
2. Chiu Wai
3. Gleeson
4. Wong
5. McKellen

Michael McCarthy said...

Hmmm....

1. Tony Leung Chiu Wai
2. Brendan Gleeson
3. Anthony Wong
4. Jeff Bridges
5. Ian McKellan

GM said...

1. Bridges
2. Chiu Wai
3. Wong
4. Gleeson
5. McKellen

RatedRStar said...

Ok, what are your thoughts and ratings on the rest of the main male cast Louis, Sam Lee, Roy Cheung and Patrick Tam.

1. Tony Leung Chiu Wai
2. Jeff Bridges
3. Anthony Wong
4. Brendan Gleeson
5. Ian McKellan

RatedRStar said...

Why do I get the feeling Louis lol, that you aren't going to quite have the same enthusiasm for those 3 actors as I do lol.

luke higham said...

1. Leung
2. Gleeson
3. Bridges
4. Wong
5. McKellen

JackiBoyz said...

Daniel what would be your top 10 best Hong Kong uniformly great cast performances, like would Infernal Affairs and Beast Cops be on the list?

JackiBoyz said...

Also can I ask is there any rivalries between any Hong Kong actors lol, you know like Clooney and DiCaprio or Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

John Smith said...

Louis, I just watched Daniel Radcliffe in the move What If, 5 star performance for me. Could you consider reviewing him at some point? If anyone else has seen it please share yout views!

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Haven't seen What If, yet. But Radcliffe was great in Horns though that film was pretty bloody awful.

RatedRStar, is it wrong that I quite enjoy Michael Fitzgerald Wong's ridiculous performance in this film, he is an awful actor I agree but he fits in quite nicely with Sam Lee and Anthony Wong :D

RatedRStar said...

@JackiBoyz: Umm I cant think of any major rivalries if im honest, most actors tend to be quite respectful since the media in countries in Japan and Hong Kong are quite vicious if something kicks off.

As for top 10, I will stick to films that have a decent amount of characters that have some depth.

1) Exiled
2) The Mission
3) Infernal Affairs II
4) Infernal Affairs
5) Red Cliff
6) Ashes Of Time
7) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
8) Portland Street Blues
9) Big Bullet
10) Election

@GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar: Not at all, I think Michael Wong was unintentionally funny in Beast Cops lol, Beast Cops is probably his best work if Louis can believe that, he is even worse in films like Nightfall and Overheard where is completely jawdropping lol.

RatedRStar said...

I just realised, when you get to see Lau Ching Wan in Mad Detective, guess who else you get to see, Arthur Kennedy himself Gordon Lam =D.

RatedRStar said...

Gordon Lam, who is so dull in most films that I reckon Louis doesnt remember he was in Infernal Affairs lol.

John Smith said...

I agree with you about Horns Donald. Horrible film with a good performance

John Smith said...

Has anyone seen The Badadook? Watch it if you want to see two Oscar worthy performances as well as horror movie that is not completely retarded

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Is one of those performances from Daniel Henshall by any chance?

Matt Mustin said...

Really random question Louis, but what are your thoughts on the cast of Seinfeld?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Unrelated question, but how is Sean Penn not a 1 for I Am Sam instead of the 1.5 you gave him? What pushes him into the threshold of "terrible" instead of "nigh unwatchable"?

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Lee - 3.5(I thought his performance was quite enjoyable as the very dirty playboy. He was technically a bit of a caricature but I felt Lee managed to bring some depth to the role while being quite funny. I particularly liked his reaction in the scene where he meets the boyfriend of the woman he really loves)

Cheung - 3(I liked his performance in his brief scenes as I think he effectively conveyed the history his and Wong's characters had together. He does not quite have the material to make much more of an impact though)

Tam - 4(The most serious performance in the film, and Tam earns his place. He's very good in conveying the growing intensity of the man as he shows the increasing ambition of his character. He very naturally flows from that loyal brother in the beginning to the overly cocky wannabe boss we see at the end)

I can definitely believe the other Wong could be worse, since here he was helped by the fact that the role did seem especially tailored for his lack of talent, as there were only a couple scenes that he did not share with the good Wong.

John Smith: I'll definitely have to check that out.

Matt:

Seinfeld - (He luckily has enough natural personality to cover himself and as the series went on he knew how to play himself well enough. He's actually really bad in the first season, and even onward whenever an episode required some more from him he never could really deliver. There are even a few scenes, with Richards, where you can see that even in the best take he kinda was still cracking up)

Alexander - (His initial take on George is a misstep as his Woody Allen impression is more annoying than funny. Thankfully he shift to Larry David combined with Ralph Kramden turned into the best performance on the show. Alexander managed to make George so enjoyably amoral yet still somehow endearing)

Dreyfus - (One problem I have with many sitcoms is they either they are too nice to their female characters, or they make them sticks in the mud. Thankfully Elaine has neither of these problems and Drefus thrives in the role. She actually does one of the most important things for a comedic character who thinks their smarter than their cohorts, which is that Elaine really isn't much smarter either)

Richards - (He's got the most flamboyantly comedic role out of all of them, and he does not waste that. He's always brings the insane energy to the character, and was always consistently funny. He makes Cosmo Kramer a fine successor to Art Carney's Ed Norton as the apartment neighbor sidekick)

Robert: Good question. I could first blame it on that was a very early year for me so maybe I was expecting to see worse among the nominees, and I did with Anthony Franciosa. The problem is I just looked and he's also a 1.5 for some reason. I really need to fix both of those.

Anonymous said...

I hated I Am Sam and Penn's performance in it, but I thought that Dakota Fanning was really good. What are your thoughts and ratings on her performance Louis?

RatedRStar said...

@Louis: Wow so Patrick Tam a deserving enough winner at the HK film awards, I certainly liked him a lot and thought he did create a character, my favorite moment of Tams was his final confession at the end when he pleads that he didnt want any of this to happen and then quickly retracts the comment and stabs Wong lol, we ll see how Sam Lee does and if he was more deserving, I am glad you liked Roy Cheung enough, would it surprise you Louis if I told you Roy Cheung always played triad members, in fact rumour has it, Roy Cheung is a triad member lol, and Patrick Tam usually played cocky characters, and Sam Lee usually played sort of geeky playboy types, I am very very happy you liked Sam Lee, I thought he was adorable.

John Smith said...

Kook, I was really more focused on the performance by the son and the mother.

John Smith said...

But Daniel Henshal was very good in his suporting role as well

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So who would be your favorite guest star on Seinfeld, Louis? Mine of course is Philip Baker Hall as Bookman the Library Detective.

@John Smith: The reason I asked is because I've been interested in his career since Snowtown.

Kevin said...

1. Bridges
2. Leung
3. Gleeson
4. Wong
5. McKellen

luke higham said...

RatedRStar & Michael Patison: Your thoughts on Man City vs Bayern Munich and Chelsea vs Schalke.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Robert: Well it has to be Bookman but here's my top five.

1. Philip Baker Hall
2. Wilford Brimley
3. James Spader
4. Stephen Lee (Conrad, Connie, Con)
5. Larry Thomas (The Soup Nazi)

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your recent film viewings from the past week.

Louis Morgan said...

The Theory of Everything

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings & thoughts for the casts, with the obvious exception of Eddie Redmayne.

luke higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on Theory of Everything.

Anonymous said...

Ratings and thoughts on Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam, who was the ray of light of that god awful movie to me.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

What a miniscule ray of light that was, then.

Anonymous said...

@kook160: well, she didn't save the movie, but without her sweet, little, touching performance I probably would have thrown something at my TV before the end of the movie.

RatedRStar said...

I did throw something at my tv, I have hated Sean Penn ever since, the 2000s was the worst decade for the oscars in my opinion, far more bad movies nominated than good.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: 2008, a prime fucking example.

RatedRStar said...

I would say 2002, 2006 and 2007 were the only oscar years I would call as having more good films than bad, the rest, nah.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: What were your thoughts on the City-Bayern Match/Result, even if you didn't see it.

RatedRStar said...

Ye I saw it, I think, people are making a big deal out of City winning but, Bayern actually dominated despite still having only 10 players so City thinking that they accomplished something....havent, and the fact that City, if they go through as 2nd which never helps, they will likely come up against a Real Madrid/Dortmund/Barcelona, and they will fail, again.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I agree with you, City should be erecting a bronze statue in Aguero's honour for their late escape, They're complete Jamokes without him. Chelsea though, are killing it right now and their performance against Schalke basically confirmed my strong belief that the title is going to be won by March. Undefeated is a bit too premature at this stage, but that possiblity is getting stronger by season's end.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

The Theory of Everything - (I have a particular annoying circumstance involving my seeing of the film as I went to the theater to watch Birdman (only theater near me that had it, which was not very near technically speaking), but they had already switched to The Theory of Everything. I will admit I was much more looking forward to Birdman, but I should not let this tarnish my feelings towards The Theory of Everything. It's a pretty paint by numbers sort of biography film, but it is decent enough in taking that approach. I never minded it even if the writing is a little too thin at times, but it's much better than some other more recent baity films of this nature)

Jones - 4(Bordering on a 4.5 for me. Her role is not even very complex really and it is fairly standard in terms of being the supportive and loving wife. In hitting these standard notes though Jones was quite good as she brought a natural warmth and always moving whenever a scene called for it. Although I would not have minded the writing stretch the character a little more I did feel Jones thrived with what she did have)

Thewlis - 2.5(I wish he would do more thing like Zero Theorum these days since this yet another very standard character for him. He's perfectly fine, but it just does not amount to much)

Watson - (She might as well not have been in it)

Cox - 3(A simple role but thought he gave a fairly charming portrayal of his character's honest earnestness)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby:

Him:

McAvoy - 3.5(McAvoy has perhaps the more difficult role out of the leads of the separate films (which I will consider separate in rankings since they only share a few scenes) in that his character Connor is less emotionally volatile due to his son's death. McAvoy is effective enough in still conveying Connor much quieter grief and eventually confusion over his wife running away. His film actually is a bit more comedic which McAvoy handles well enough, and I liked his performance even though I never loved it)

Hinds - 3.5(He provides both the right distance yet with still a warmth. He manages to suggest the history between the father and son)

Hader - 3(He might be a little too broad a times, but I certainly did not mind his performance)

Chastain - 3.5(Portions of a better lead performance)

Her:

Chastain - 4.5(Chastain gives a very effective depiction of Eleanor Rigby's overpowering yet very understated grief. She very good in bringing out the intensity of her emotions well staying quite subtle and natural with her performance. She expresses the confusion of her character while never seeming too vague. She is helped much more by the writing than McAvoy is I think, but either way she makes the most of that fact)

Huppert - 3(Like Hader actually I feel she might overplay it a bit. Again I don't mind her performance still as it does work well enough)

Hurt - 3.5(I feel the two father characters were written a little too closely. I think Hurt and Hinds frankly could have given the same performance in each other's role nothing would have been lost. Hurt is good in basically the exact same way as Hinds)

McAvoy - 3(Makes less of an impact in the supporting role than Chastain does but the more positive aspects of his performance still stand)

Anonymous:

Fanning I might give a 2.5. I recall her being fine. To be honest I don't really remember all that much of her, and I have no intentions to re-watch that film.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I noticed you lowered Norton's rating. For shame, Louis. For shame.

Matt Mustin said...

Norton in American History X is one of my favourite leading performances ever.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Oh yeah, he was great. Though I will say I can't decide between him or Bridges for my win.

Matt Mustin said...

Norton's my win easily, simply because he had a far greater challenge. He essentially played three different characters and blended them seamlessly into one. Bridges is my runner-up.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: It was a shame that I ever gave him a five I'm afraid in that I will freely admit I bought somewhat into the hype surrounding his performance when I originally reviewed him, and ignored a few reservations I did have in regards to his performance. Don't get me wrong I still think he gives a very good performance. I do feel there is an awkwardness though in his two scenes as the earliest Derek and really don't think his scenes with Guy Torry really work either.