I Corrupt All Cops (2009)
The story itself is loosely based on the period of the late 60s of Hong Kong where corruption was rampant. As according to history, the period marked an era where the economy was rapidly expanding, and low wage levels often resulted in public officials taking bribery as the norm in getting rich. The police would take bribes from hawkers and even druglords to allow them to continue business, the fire service would ask for a ‘water fee’ before helping anyone extinguish a fire, and as portrayed in another Hong Kong Movie, Echoes of The Rainbow, nurses would only give out blankets and water when the patient pays them a hefty sum. To sum it up, the era marked one of the darkest days of Hong Kong history where there was no distinction between white and black as everyone was in the same boat of corruption. This eventually led to the setup of ICAC in order to fight the rampant corruption that was breeding uncontrollably.
I Corrupt All Cops starts with the foul mouthed policeman Unicorn who in order to impress his boss picks up a scapegoat Bong (Alex fong Lik Sun) and tries to torture him to confess to serious crimes, through a series of pleas from his uncle, we are introduced to Gold (Wong Jing) as the middlemen between the underworld and the police force who helps to release Bong. Upon his release, Bong vows to arrest all of them one day.
However, the true leading character of the movie was the powerful Chief Inspector Lak ( starring Tony Leung Ka-Fai). Together with Gold and his loyal right hand man Gale (Eason Chan), he not only singlehandedly controls the Police force but also has power over the criminals by giving them police protection and taking them away if they displease him. Lak’s cockiness eventually leads to the founding of the ICAC, which stands for Independent Commission Against Corruption, and eventually the ICAC successfully cripples the corruption empire that Lak and Gold managed to build, sending them to exile.
The character of Detective Lak was among the most successful thanks to the superb acting of Tony Leung, who portrays a violent and sleazy police officer that wouldn’t hesitate to put a hammer to someone’s head. In fact, I Corrupt All Cops has a number of characters which are as intriguing. Eason Chan’s Gale is considered the ‘good guy’ in the movie and by chance becomes the loyal right hand man of Detective Lak. Whenever Lak or Gold has an affair, Gale would take them on as his own mistresses to help his boss evade trouble. Another policemen Unicorn would begin strongly as the foul mouth corrupt officer but he ends up in exile after a fall-out with his boss. Both men find their dignity totally lost in the system, and only managed to regain that dignity when they finally escape the corruption machine.
A Loss Of Focus
With this said, I Corrupt All Cops is itself in fact a bit of a disappointment due to a loss of focus. As in the introduction, the movie was supposed to be about the ICAC, which the English title smartly takes its name. But the Commission itself was only set up nearly three quarters into the film, and this is where everything starts to fall apart.
The portrayal of the ICAC was itself full of historical inaccuracies, which makes the premise totally unbelievable. Where the real ICAC was run by policemen directly sent from the UK, who were themselves experienced in interrogation techniques that proved effective, I Corrupt All Cops shows a group of university graduates, both kind and timid up against the fierce and unforgiving cops. While the contrast does give a theatrical feel to the movie, the handling was totally wrong and gave a really pathetic impression towards the Commission. Director Wong Jing also seem to skip through many historical events, such as the Clash between the Police force and the ICAC, which could have been good movie material but was never utilized.
Instead, Director Wong Jing doesn’t seem to be able to figure out what he wants to do with the movie, at times he tries to film a crime & gangster thriller, but a minute later we are shown hot gorgeous actresses roaming around the screen. In fact, I Corrupt All Cops features a number of beautiful actresses who would take your eyes away. Natalie Meng Yao stars as Unicorn’s mistress, Liu Yang who plays drug lord Rose, Kate Tsui who plays Gale’s fourth wife Lily and not to mention the eight other women who make up the rest of his “wives”. Only at this point do we realize that this is in fact, a Wong Jing movie afterall.
To conclude, I Corrupt All Cops could have been much more, if only it had a better focus and didn’t try to be everything at once. The characters of Gale and Unicorn could have been better developed and same for the evolution of the ICAC too. With this said, I Corrupt All Cops does offer a glimpse of an era in Hong Kong that is so alien to the place we know as of today.