Bullet Points: The Corruptor
Chow Yun-Fat had made quite the name for himself in his native Hong Kong starring in movies directed by John Woo like The Killer and Hard Boiled. Hollywood picked up on the Chow Yun-Fat buzz and the Hong Kong actor was given the shot at being a Hollywood actor in movies like The Replacement Killers, Bulletproof Monk and the subject of this review, The Corruptor…
There is a great line in The Corruptor delivered by Chow Yun-Fat’s character, Nick Chen, that really sums the whole film up, “You don’t change Chinatown, Chinatown changes you.” And that is because none of the principal characters in the film are the same as you perceive them at the start of the film and what they turn out to be by the end of the film.
- The Lay of the Land: Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) is a highly decorated member of the NYPD. He is also the head of the NYPD’s Asian Gang Unit. Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg) is a young cop that is assigned to the AGU, much to Chen’s chagrin. The people of Chinatown already have a great distrust for the cops, let alone a white cop like Danny Wallace. On the other side of the line, you have a young upstart named Bobby Vu (Byron Mann). Vu is the leader of the Fukienese Dragons. The Dragons want to control the drug trafficking in Chinatown, something that the old Chinese Triad has run forever. The boss of the Triad is Benny Chan AKA Uncle Benny (Kim Chan, who also played a character nicknamed Uncle Benny in Lethal Weapon 4). Benny’s right hand man is a guy named Henry Lee (Ric Young). Lee proves to be the straw that stirs the drink in The Corrupter as he has dealings with all of the other main characters. Ric Young is an actor you would recognize, I was familiar with some of his smaller roles in movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, but The Corruptor gave him a chance to play a more significant role and I enjoyed his performance.
- The Action: With a run time of nearly two hours, The Corruptor is not your typical wham bam action flick. The additional time allows the film’s characters to be multi-layered and for the plot and the twists to fully develop. That also means the action is spread through out the film and The Corruptor is not of the non-stop, in your face variety. But when there is action it is top notch and it is intense. There are several shoot outs and a classic car chase that will appease the appetite of any action fan. My favorite action scene would be when Nick Chen pays Bobby Vu a visit at his place of business, after Vu had unsuccessfully put a hit out on Chen and Chen just beats the ever loving crap out of Bobby Vu. That scene juxtaposed with the scene where Nick Chen is receiving an accommodation for his police work, shows the two sides of Chen’s character.
- The Verdict: I was a big fan of Chow Yun-Fat’s work in this film and it is surprising to me that his time in Hollywood did not last longer. What is not surprising is that he continues to kick ass and make films in Hong Kong. Mark Wahlberg’s second foray into the world of action entertainment was quite different than his first action film, The Big Hit. The Corrupter had a serious tone but Wahlberg, who at this point had starred in movies like Boogie Nights and The Basketball Diares, had no problem mixing mixing the dramatic aspects of his character along with the physicality that is expected in an action movie. The heart of this movie is the relationship between the two cops, Chen and Wallace, and how each of them, with their own agendas, navigate the tangled web that is Chinatown. The Corruptor is not your typical action flick and will keep you guessing.
Avid readers of Bulletproof Action are probably guessing that I have some bonus Bullet Points and they’d be right…
- Familiar Faces: As I mentioned earlier Byron Mann played the role of young gang leader, Bobby Vu. You may remember Byron from movies like Crying Freeman or as Ryu in the Street Fighter movie… Veteran character actor Brian Cox plays Danny Wallace’s retired cop father with a gambling problem. Cox was in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy… Paul Ben-Victor plays FBI agent Schabacker in The Corruptor. You may also recognize him from his work in Maximum Risk with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Natasha Henstridge or The Rookie with Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Mark Wahlberg go to a massage parlor and get a happy ending, then this the movie for you.
- Yellow Fever: One of the cops of Asian descent on Nick Chen’s led Asian Gang Unit, accuses Danny Wallace of having “Yellow Fever”. This is a “condition” where white people are only attracted to Asians.
- You Be The Judge: Does actor Kim Chan have the greatest or the worst IMDb profile picture of all-time?