Sergeant Chan Lap Kei(Wong Chung) leads his team including fresh faced Pretty Boy(Cheung Kwok Keung) on a mission to bring down a gang of bank robbers. Unfortunately their maniacal leader Biu(Hui Bing Sam) manages to escape and goes on a murderous rampage of revenge against the cops and their unsuspecting families.
Directed by Alex Cheung in 1979, this was actually made before the heroic bloodshed era began and it probably helped inspire the likes of John Woo, Johnnie To and Ringo Lam. While having violent and bloody shootouts, Cops and Robbers also focuses on themes of brotherhood and loyalty.
Each character’s story and relationships are built up effectively so when the time come for them to confront the psychopath Biu, you actually care for them. And when characters start getting killed off, it is a genuine worry. The last half hour is incredibly nail biting as it gets more brutal and violent and literally no one is safe.
Director Cheung often let's the story take a back seat while the action unfolds. From violent in your face shoot outs to great chase scenes, there is plenty of action to enjoy. The heist scenes are extremely tense, gritty and realistic. Another real highlight of the film is an incredible foot chase of the cops hunting Biu through a shanty town which is brought to life wonderfully, an intriguing and exciting edge of the seat scene which shows how great a director Alex Cheung is.
All of the actors deliver a fine job, although their performances aren't what captures your interest. Hui Bing Sam does deserve special credit for his role as Biu. He is genuinely one of the most frightening villains in any Cop thriller. He gets more and more psychotic as the story unfolds to the point were he becomes a complete maniac.
Cops And Robbers may be very dated in some ways. Technically speaking, it doesn't look as polished or stylish as recent Hong Kong thrillers. There are also some scenes which would be omitted if this was made now such as the intro with the kids and the musical numbers. But the story, themes and characters are still very relevant to this day and the film still holds up wonderfully while its 90+ minute running time zooms by. Cops And Robbers is definitely due a remastered release before it is lost for good and we are all robbed of a classic.
A must see part of history for Hong Kong cinephiles.