I’m gonna give this movie mad props for action, especially a thrilling car chase, but enough already with the warring crime families in Chinatown and the smuggled Chinese immigrants who become prostitutes and indentured servants in garment factories to pay off their passage to America! Been there, done that!
However, with The Corruptor, Chow Yun-Fat redeems himself for The Replacement Killers, his awful entrée into American cinema. Yun-Fat plays Nick Chen, a bad-ass cop on the Chinatown beat, the lead detective of the Asian Gang Unit. Chen maintains an uneasy relationship with the old-school Triads, mob families posing as businessmen.
When the Fukienese Dragons, young turks with no respect for the tradition, begin to threaten the peaceful (albeit criminal) balance-of-power, Chen must reluctantly join forces with Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg), a greenhorn white rookie with “yellow fever,” forced on the AGU for political reasons by the department. A string of buddy cop film cliches later, Danny is courted by the mobsters and Chen is caught between his duty as a cop, rescuing Danny from a dangerous path, and his tenuous relationship with the crime bosses.
Formulaic, hackneyed, trite, all-of-the-above and then some, The Corruptor still rocks like plate tectonics. Director James Foley infuses the energy of Seventies cop films with the choreography of Hong Kong chop suey and holds it all together with a hip hop soundtrack that includes an acid jazz version of the Bill Wither’s classic “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
By the way, movie title people, the proper spelling is “corrupter” with an “e.”