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(1999) (Chow Yun-Fat, Mark Wahlberg) (R)

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Action/Drama: An inexperienced rookie cop joins a seasoned detective in trying to deal with two crime families that are raging war against one another in New York's Chinatown.
Nick Chen (CHOW YUN-FAT), a NYPD detective, is the law on the streets of New York's Chinatown. With close ties to the Tongs, some local and powerful Chinese leaders that includes Henry Lee (RIC YOUNG), whose "uncle" Benny runs the "family business," Nick is a seasoned and decorated officer who now heads the force's Asian Gang Unit.

His job has recently become more difficult as a young and violent gang, the Fukienese Dragons, led by Bobby Vu (BYRON MANN), have arrived and begun a turf war. As a result, the NYPD assigns Danny Wallace (MARK WAHLBERG), a young and idealistic cop, to the task force. Nick isn't happy about that, and encourages the recruit to quit. He eventually takes him under his wing, however, as his team continues to infiltrate the gangs.

Things become more complicated, however, when Nick and Danny unknowingly bust an undercover drug agent that brings the wrath of FBI agent Schabacker (PAUL BEN-VICTOR), who's never liked Nick and believes him to be corrupt. In addition, the Tongs begin attempting to corrupt Danny -- by helping him solve cases and helping his gambling addicted father (BRIAN COX) out of debt -- actions that infuriate Nick since he's already been down that same path.

As the gang war heats up and Nick realizes that he and his new partner are in danger from many different forces, he does what he must to make sure that both he and Danny survive the various attempts on their reputations and lives.

If they're fans of heavy-duty, shoot 'em up, action films, they probably will.
For strong violence, language and sexuality.
  • CHOW YUN-FAT plays a seasoned NYPD detective who's been corrupted by powerful, Asian mob leaders. As a result, he often takes the law into his own hands, kills some thugs, and doesn't bust a hooker that he's seeing. He also smokes and drinks some.
  • MARK WAHLBERG plays a younger cop who must deal with the corruptive influence he encounters when trying to do his job. He also smokes, drinks, has sex with some strangers and must deal with his estranged father.
  • RIC YOUNG plays a local Asian mob boss who runs a prostitution and gambling ring when not trying to corrupt the police.
  • BYRON MANN plays a violent gang leader.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    Although the title "The Corruptor" is named for the various forms and forces of corruption commonly found in inner-city police departments -- or at least as portrayed in the movies -- the filmmakers probably should have called this one "The Squib Master."

    In film parlance, a "squib" is a small explosive device commonly deployed to simulate the effects of gunfire, whether such impact occurs in bodies, walls, cars, etc..., and is used to give that "realistic" effect of a bullet (or bullets) piercing, shattering or basically blasting something (or someone) to bits.

    One doesn't need to look any further than this film for a prime example of them, as it appears that New Line Cinema's special effects department must have had an inventory reduction sale on the little devices. About as violent as they come and with enough gunfire for several action films, "The Corruptor" is yet another release where more attention was apparently paid to staging elaborate shoot 'em up scenes than delivering an original or entertaining story, characters, or overall film.

    More reminiscent of the gritty, hard-boiled cop dramas of the seventies than the more recent "Lethal Weapon" series or the violent Hong Kong films that made both actor Chow Yun-Fat and occasional directing collaborator John Woo legends there, the film will probably disappoint fans from either of those camps.

    With relatively no humor or much needed comic relief (which allowed the Gibson/Glover films to appeal to mainstream audiences) and without the highly stylized and overly choreographed, near balletic action sequences found in films such as "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled," this picture -- courtesy of director James Foley ("At Close Range," "Glengarry Glen Ross") -- comes off as nothing more than a hyper violent, run of the mill crime drama.

    Although freshman screenwriter Robert Pucci's plot attempts to come off as complicated -- and does contain a plot twist two-thirds of the way through that at least offers a tiny bit of complications and character conflict, although it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to audiences -- most of it's simply a conglomeration of elements from other pictures.

    The mismatched buddy film has, for all intended purposes, been run into the ground and the pairing here, just as in Chow Yun-Fat's first American release, last year's "The Replacement Killers" with Mira Sorvino, offers nothing new or interesting to the mix.

    The subplot of illegal immigrants being smuggled into the country for, or being forced into, illegal activities certainly isn't new, and was most recently and similarly explored in "Lethal Weapon 4." Finally, the whole "someone on the force is corrupt" element has been done so many times on TV series and in the movies that it's doubtful anyone thinks there might be a police department in existence -- let alone in the movies -- that's actually clean.

    As such, you may be asking yourself what this movie has going for it. The answer is Chow Yun- Fat. Although not given the same latitude found in his Asian-based films, this picture allows the suave actor a better chance at displaying his charismatic acting wares than in "Replacement Killers" where he was reduced to nothing more than a stoic -- but lethal -- character.

    While he'll never have the appeal of his fellow compatriot and action star, Jackie Chan, Yun-Fat certainly has that special star power that makes his presence on screen that much more alluring, and he's given enough character nuances here to make him interesting.

    While co-star Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg has occasionally displayed some of that in his acting career (such as in "Boogie Nights"), at other times he seems misplaced in certain films like last year's equally violent, "The Big Hit." As in that film, his acting style here is all across the board, and while at times he seems right for the character (the action sequences), at others he just doesn't work, particularly when more serious -- and often stilted and forced -- dialogue is required.

    The rest of the performances, all of which are hampered by two-dimensional or stereotypical characterizations, are decent for what's expected of them, but are easily and certainly forgettable not long after one leaves the theater.

    All in all -- and if one doesn't mind the brutal violence and loud mayhem, or the odd inclusion of a rap soundtrack for a story set in Chinatown -- the film isn't that difficult to watch and should somewhat please fans of hardcore action films.

    Those looking for films similar to Chow Yun-Fat's earlier work, or of anything new or even interesting in the cop drama genre, however, won't find it here. Not horrible, but as many degrees away from great as there are bullets fired during it, this is an easily forgettable film that will probably have more success once on video than it does in the theaters. We give "The Corruptor" a 4 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Violence is extreme with enough gunfire for several action films occurring in several scenes that includes many people being repeatedly shot or otherwise beaten (with copious amounts of blood and squirting blood as a result).

    We see the beginnings and/or aftermaths of sexual encounters (that include some nudity) as well as a brief bit of a lesbian porno film being shot (with nudity). Sexually related discussions also occur as does nudity in the form of bare breasts and a man's bare butt in a hastily arranged brothel. Profanity is extreme with 10+ "f" words, and other words and phrases are also uttered.

    Bad attitudes are extreme due to the behavior and attitudes of the criminals as well as the corrupt cops who enforce their own version of the law. Moderate amounts of drinking and smoking occur and we see what is presumably drugs in a drug bust.

    Since some teenage boys will probably want to see this film (as they're the likely audience amongst kids), you may want to take a closer look at the content should you still be concerned with the film and its appropriateness for them.

    Of special note for those concerned with such visuals, several scenes have full or near-full strobe- like effects that occur during them.

  • Nick and Danny make a bust where they find bags of what looks like cocaine.
  • Danny, Nick and another cop have beer in a bar, while Nick and the other cop each drink a shot of liquor.
  • Danny's father drinks from a flask.
  • Danny, Nick and another cop drink in a bar and may be a bit tipsy.
  • Henry Lee offers to buy Danny a drink.
  • Danny has a beer.
  • As Nick and Danny return home with two women, we see that Nick carries a bottle of champagne.
  • Danny and Nick have drinks in a bar.
  • Henry Lee has wine.
  • An injured man is bloody and we see more blood once he's then shot.
  • Blood squirts out from a man's head after he's shot point blank.
  • We briefly see a photograph of a bloody murder victim.
  • In another shootout, people who are shot are bloody or have blood squirt out from their wounds and surrounding walls, etc... are also bloody.
  • We see a dismembered pig's head in a restaurant's sink (not gory beyond the sight of it).
  • We see a dead and bloody hooker in a trash dumpster.
  • Another man who's shot is bloody and blood squirts out, as is the case with another man who's shot (as is the wall behind him).
  • We see some blood on the head of Danny's father.
  • We see a man get shot in the head and then see blood splatter on a car window.
  • More people shot during another massive gun battle are bloody, as is Nick by the end of it.
  • We see blood squirt out onto a wall as a man commits suicide.
  • More people shot during another gun battle are also bloody as are objects around them.
  • Obviously, all of those involved with the gangs have extreme cases of both as they deal in drugs and prostitution and will kill anyone who gets into their way.
  • Nick has both for working with the gangs he's supposed to be busting, as well as using, and not busting, a hooker. He later pays a doctor to file a report that she's dead so that he can get her off the streets.
  • Danny's father, an alcoholic former cop, refers to some Italians as "dagos" and Chinese as "chinks."
  • Danny allows himself to be influenced by, or receive help from, corrupt officers or criminals.
  • Some prostitutes go through Danny's clothes looking for money after they've spent the night with him (on someone else's "tab").
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • Working off a tip, Danny slowly walks through a darkened building, gun and flashlight drawn, looking for something.
  • With a car approaching that will surely drive a hunk of metal into Nick who's trapped inches from it and will certainly die, Danny repeatedly fires guns at that car trying to divert its path.
  • A cop, distrustful of his partner, holds his gun on that partner, ready to kill him.
  • Nick and Danny slowly make their way through a boat looking for the bad guys in a several minute scene.
  • Handguns/Machine guns/Explosives: Used to threaten, wound, or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Dipsh*t," "Dago" and Chinks" (as ethnic slurs), "Hard-on," "Freakin'," "Whore," "Blow me," "Piss," "Shut up," "Loser," "Chicks," "Screw it," "Pissed," "Balls" (testicles), "Scumbag," "Scum" and "Take a leak."
  • All of the gun battles may look cool enough to inspire some kids to play with guns and/or imitate what they've seen.
  • A man commits suicide.
  • A sudden explosion may startle some in the audience.
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful, ominous, and action-oriented tense music occurs during the film.
  • Several rap songs play during the film, and while some lyrics could not be understood, we heard the following: At least 1 "f" word as well as "Bitch(s)" and "Slap a bitch."
  • At least 24 "f" words, 21 "s" words, 9 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck," "p*cker," "pr*ck," "weenie" and "wick"), 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 6 asses (3 used with "hole"), 3 hells, 2 S.O.B.'s, and 1 use each of "Christ" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • We see Nick in his bathrobe while a hooker finishes getting dressed (we don't see any nudity or activity), and he offers to pay her money, but she refuses.
  • One of Nick's men believes that Danny has a "hard-on" for all things Chinese, and then says that he probably wants to "get his wick licked by a nice almond-eyed beauty." Danny then asks whether they're going to discuss their sexual histories (they don't).
  • The cops discover a prostitution ring and we see many bare-breasted young women, as well as the bare butt of a man in the background.
  • We see the bare breasts of a dead and bloody hooker in a trash dumpster.
  • We hear sexual sounds and then follow Danny through a door where he discovers a man videotaping several nude women (bare breasts) on a bed involved in some sort of pornographic activity.
  • An Asian cop tells Danny, "White people think all Asians have little d*cks...So you think when an Asian chick sees your p*cker, she's going to think it's Mount Saint Helens?....that your weenie's going to look like a sewer pipe..?." He then says, "The joke's on you. This Chinaman's hung like a..." (he doesn't finish the statement).
  • We see Danny and Henry Lee accompanied by two women in a sauna. We then see Danny's bare butt as he lies down for a massage and the woman with him straddles his butt and then pulls down her dress, revealing her breasts. After spreading oil on him, she rubs her breasts over his back and licks his ear. He then rolls over (with her still straddling him) and they presumably have sex.
  • We see a young woman kissing Vu's nipple, but they're interrupted before anything else happens, although we do see Vu in his underwear as well as a brief shot of a TV in the background where a man appears to be licking something from a woman's cleavage.
  • As a woman runs her hand down Danny's pants he stops her (so that she doesn't find something in his pocket) and she asks, "Don't you like that?" He then excuses himself to the bathroom to remove that, and upon returning, discovers that Nick has arranged for Danny to be "serviced" by those two women (and we see both of them in bed waiting for him). Although we don't see anything else, it's implied that they were involved in some sort of sexual activity.
  • Nick and Vu smoke several times, while Danny smokes a few times and other miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • Danny must deal with his estranged father who's in trouble with a gang and needs money.
  • Nick briefly talks about his father being murdered.
  • Corruption in police departments.
  • Illegal immigrants who end up being forced into crime or prostitution to pay for their trip to America.
  • A huge explosion rips apart a corner store (presumably killing anyone inside). An injured man than stumbles out and is repeatedly shot by several Fukienese gang members.
  • Several Fukienese thugs show up to harass a store owner. Nick then confronts them, and as they prepare to shoot him, he shoots one of them point blank in the head. A massive gun battle then follows where Nick shoots and kills several more of them. Nick then takes the last guy and punches him and holds a gun on him, letting him live to send a message to his leader.
  • Vu punches one of his men and tells him to go and kill Nick.
  • Some men with machine guns open fire on the police who then shoot back in another massive gun battle. Several people are shot and killed during this several minute scene.
  • A bad guy breaks a window to escape, but is cornered by Nick who hits him on the head with a gun, bangs him against a wall, and then throws him down a stairwell where he smashes into another man.
  • Nick walks in and punches a thug in the face while another cop holds his gun on the thug's associates. Nick then knees him several times and holds his head under some sink water. He then repeatedly kicks him on the floor.
  • We see that someone killed a hooker and threw her body into a trash dumpster.
  • Nick holds his gun to a gang member's crotch, threatening to shoot if he doesn't talk, while another cop punches the thug in the gut.
  • A man throws a large video camera at Danny who then clotheslines that man as he tries to escape. Another man opens fire on him, and Danny shoots him dead. The first guy then kicks Danny who also shoots him dead.
  • On a stakeout, Danny and Nick hear machine gun fire and race out onto the street where some thugs open fire on them with machine guns and another massive gun battle then ensues (with some people being killed). This then turns into a car chase/gun battle with both parties shooting at each other while driving down the city streets. Several cars crash into each other or other objects and several bystanders are shot while another is run over by the thugs. One of the thugs is smashed into a truck and killed, Nick is nearly decapitated, and Danny repeatedly shoots at an approaching car to divert its path, eventually killing the driver and causing the vehicle to explode.
  • We hear a man being shot and then see some thugs approach another man in a menacing fashion. That man, defiant of the others, then shoots himself in the head. They then repeatedly shoot his body, but we don't see the impact.
  • Nick breaks the glass on a door to get to an informant.
  • A cop, distrustful of his partner, holds his gun on that partner, ready to kill him.
  • Another gun battle breaks out with many people being graphically shot and killed (and another catching on fire) in a cat and mouse sequence set onboard a ship.

  • Reviewed March 1, 1999 / Posted March 12, 1999

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