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Title: The Corruptor

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:75

Chow Yun-Fat is a staple of the 90s action montage. He’s about as indispensable to the action genre as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Mel Gibson, and just as fun and charismatic on screen. Notably Yun-Fat’s greatest achievements have been under the direction of John Woo, but he has made enough of a mark outside of Woo that you have to stand up and take notice. He still acts in a lot more dramatic roles since the turn of the century, but I’ll always remember him for the double fisting gunman that he used to make his mark in the late 80s and all of the 90s. “The Corruptor” is a little crime/cop actioneer that is on the downward side of his career, giving us a fun little flick that even though it never fully gains traction is entertaining and explosive enough to warrant a good watch.

The year is 1999. Chinatown is under siege from rival gangs. One side is the old fashioned Chinese Tongs, while the other is an up and coming gang called the Fukanese Dragons. The police have sent in a special task force to root out the top level members helmed by veteran task force leader Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat). The war has been going on for quite a while with neither side gaining any significant advantage until a rookie cop named Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg) comes in to shake things up. Danny’s disadvantaged as the rookie, but not only a rookie, but a WHITE rookie in a task force made up of Chinese cops.

Danny starts to shake the tree to see what falls out and soon finds out that things aren’t as cut and dry as he thought they were. Chen is a dirty cop and has been working with the Tongs for years and now Danny’s father’s gambling debts have landed him in the same situation. Now he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Part of him wants to follow things by the rule book and turn in Chen, but the other part sees the compromises that have to be made on the street in order to save lives. Mix in some voracious FBI agents who have an agenda of their own and a few secrets that even Danny has under his hat and Chinatown is shaping up to be an explosive scenario.

Oh my goodness! Marky Mark was a BABY in this role! I’m sorry, I just had to get that out of the way first. Marky Mark is one of those love him or hate him actors. Over the years has gone from a white rapper and Calvin Klein underwear model to an actor that actually has some decent chops when properly pushed. Back 15 years ago, though, he was still a fledgling actor and his work was still quite a bit stilted. His role as Danny Wallace is rough and uneven at time, with a penchant for playing the character wildly over the top, or bland the next moment. Still, he’s likeable enough as the handsome rookie with a secret and his chemistry with Chow Yun-Fat is what sells the role. Chow Yun-Fat is fantastic as he always is, but the direction could have been tweaked just a little bit, as Yun-Fat is a bit too “Hong Kong” for the average American movie goer. It’s hard to fully describe, but if you’ve seen his old Hong Kong action flicks you’ll know what I mean. There is a sort of over the top glee and overly humorous facial expressions that they love in those types of movies and it can see a bit weird to a casual fan of action movies who isn’t familiar with Hong Kong cinema. On the flip side of that coin, it also gives the movie a distinctly Asian flavor that works well in the Chinatown environment.

I’m still town about “The Corruptor”. It has some complex elements dealing with moral decisions that give it a decidedly “Training Day” feel to the film, but the old 1990’s action and explosions don’t always jive with that somber direction. The internal conflict over right and wrong sometimes gets lost among the John Woo ish level of guns, knives, fast cars and beautiful women at places. Action movies are great, but it just seems as if they couldn’t find that perfect balance and left the movie feeling a bit awkward. Any more action it would have pushed out the moral reflection elements of the movie, but we are left with not enough action for the movie to be really engaging and exciting as it could have been too, so what’s left is solid, but obviously lacking those finishing touches that would have raised the movie up into one of Chow Yun-Fat’s better movies.


Rated R for strong violence, language and sexuality

Video :4stars:
Warner Brothers puts out “The Corruptor” onto Blu-ray with a very solid looking 1080p encode. Back in 2000 when the Platinum Edition DVD came out it was considered top tier, and that same master looks like it’s been re-used for the Blu-ray release. This comes with both good and bad connotations. The good is that the image looks fairly unmolested and clean form DNR with a nice layer of film grain. The bad is there is some inherent over sharpening backed into the master and some blown contrasts that give skin tones a pale look to them at times. Detail is strong, with some issues pertaining to softness of the picture, but the majority of the film looks really nice, with exceptional detail on clothing and times such as Danny’s pistol and the knife he uses to break a lock.

Audio :4stars:
The audio is still very good after all these years, displaying an aggressive fierceness that was prevalent in these 90s action movies. Dialog is crisp and clear with only a few moments where I felt that Chow Yun-Fat’s thick Chinese accent (at this time he was just breaking into American cinema) was a bit hard to hear. The surrounds are used quite extensively and give a 360 degree playground for gun fire to bounce around and car chases to fill the room. LFE extension is tight and powerful, not blasting the walls with excessive low end, but still adding some very nice weight to fill out the action oriented gun battles and chases.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Commentary by Director James Foley
• From the (Under) ground up: The Making of "The Corruptor"
• "Take it Off" Music Video
• Trailers

Overall: :3.5stars:

“The Corruptor” is one of those action movies that has been partially forgotten even among action aficionados. It has pieces of John Woo intermingled with the dark and morose of an Asian “Training Day”, but it stands as one of Chow Yun-Fats more mediocre action movies. It doesn’t have enough action to make it over the top fun, and the acting isn’t enough to really sell the darker moments of the film as Ethan and Denzel did for “Training Day”. Warner’s 1080 transfer of “The Corruptor” is a solid presentation on Blu-ray and certainly looks and sounds much better than the old Platinum edition DVD put out over 15 years ago. Definitely recommend checking out if you love the good old days of action movies.

Additional Information:

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Mark Wahlberg, Ric Young
Directed by: James Foley
Written by: Robert Pucci
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, German DD 5.1, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 7th 2015

Buy The Corruptor On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

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