Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Erik Canuel

Although incredibly supportive of any effort to go green, when it comes to film criticism, I’m an environmentalist’s nightmare. Despite trying to recycle as often as possible-- even though it pains me to admit that at 27 I can’t depend on memory alone-- I’m a big believer in note-taking, filling scores of pages when I watch a given film. In the theatre it’s an incredible challenge given the lack of light and audience distraction but it’s invitingly easier to do so in the comfort of my own home with the freedom of using pens that click, outrageously colorful post-its, and yellow legal pads I covet as though they were as vital as water, not to mention sole possession of the remote control. While it always cracks me up that I seem to only use about ¼ of my notes in any given review, reading over them before I write never fails to illuminate my automatic response to whatever the cinematic stimulus was that particular day and this was especially true when reading over my reactions to the box office and Genie award winning Canadian smash, Bon Cop, Bad Cop. In American movies, before learning the character’s names, sometimes I’ll label them in notes by the actor’s last name (Diaz or Downey, for example) or in independent films, sometimes I have to be a bit more vague like “main guy” or “girlfriend,” however, one has to be even more creative with foreign fare. Possibly in anticipation for the rousing, unlikely buddy cop/culture clash comedy, and oddly instead of going for the obvious analysis of “French” or “English” to keep them straight, I discovered that without any true intention to do so, I’d described our two leads as “square cop” and “sexy cop.” Obviously, it won’t come as a surprise to those of you reared on Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop and other actioners to learn that sexy cop was the hot, black haired (of course!) French cop we’d come to identify with as bad cop and square cop was the bilingual but primarily English speaking, good (or as the French would say “bon”) cop. And although later their names translated to the French Quebec police officer David Bouchard (played by Patrick Huard) and English’s Montreal officer Martin Ward (Colm Feore), less amused by their movie handles, strangely enough, I still chose to go with sexy cop and square cop in my notes.

After a gruesome introduction acquaints us with the film’s sadistic hockey mask wearing “tattoo killer” villain, erroneously setting the film up to be Silence of the Lambs like instead of the Lethal Weapon meets Hot Fuzz styled advertising had promised, we meet our two police detective leads as they find they’re forced to work with one another when the murderer’s victim is found draped over the “Welcome to Ontario” sign, with as they joke his heart in Quebec and rear in Ontario. The first of several jokes between the French and English who constantly ridicule one another, I quickly learned that as an American, there were going to be several in-jokes and references that wouldn’t ring as true for those unfamiliar with Canadian attitudes and sure enough, there’s an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the film that explains some of the references but CliffsNotes for cop comedies seems like a major distraction when trying to follow the adventures of square cop and sexy cop.

Blending together the tried and true genres of the culture clash styled fish-out-of-water, American buddy comedy and procedural cop thriller, Bon Cop, Bad Cop benefits largely due to its high energy cast including a wonderful, commanding and subtle turn by the straight-laced Colm Feore as square cop Martin and the gorgeous, mischievous Patrick Huard (who also came up with the original idea for the film) as sexy cop David. The two not only play well off of one another but are also given some inventive subplots including David being seduced by Martin’s aggressively, flirtatious sister (which culminates in a ridiculously over-the-top sex scene) and in turn, Martin finding himself drawn to David’s ex-wife, with whom he still lives.

Hampered by an overly long running time and a mystery plot that, despite some major explosions and mishaps along the way, never quite seems as intriguing as the two main characters, the film was nonetheless so successful in its native Canada that according to IMDb, it “ended Porky’s 24 year reign as the highest grossing Canadian movie in the Canadian box office.” However, for a far superior and much more satisfying spoof of the same genre, there’s no replacing Hot Fuzz, although hockey fans and those who enjoy Canadian odd couples comprised of one man who’s sexy and one who’s a square, won’t want to miss Bon Cop, Bad Cop.