In the 1980s the term ‘Buddy Cop film’ was coined and it described a film that typically had two opposing police offers working together. With a mix of action and comedy, these films have been a staple in the film industry, and they have definitely evolved since their inception, varying on the idea of two police officers, e.g. 48 hrs has a cop (Nick Nolte) paired with a convict (Eddie Murphy). What makes these films great is the partnership between the two lead characters, and there are some films which stand out as having a memorable pairing.
Here are my top 5 cop partnerships:
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover first played Riggs and Murtaugh in 1987, with Riggs as the reckless, hot headed detective who has recently lost his wife, while Murtaugh is the ageing family man. With four films in total Riggs and Murtaugh are a great duo who initially began as reluctant partners, but throughout the films grew closer and became more than just friends but family as well. Each film in the series depicts their struggle with getting older whilst fighting crime.
Jackie Chan was known as one of the best martial arts film stars in the world and Chris Tucker was a well known comic in America. Together the two of them were able to create one of the funniest cop partnerships ever. The first of three films was released in 1998 and created an East meets West culture clash between Inspector Lee (Chan) and Detective James Carter (Tucker), which is the foundation for a lot of the comedy in the films.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
The small exception to the ’buddy cop’ film rule in this list (which usually has two cops working together) comes in the form of Die Hard with a Vengeance. Unlike the first two films in the series which saw John McClane working alone, this third instalment sees McClane working alongside a reluctant shop owner called Zeus Carver (Samuel L Jackson). The two work together to stop a man called ‘Simon’ who is planting bombs around New York for the pair to find before they explode. Unlike the first two films, it’s interesting to see McClane have to work with someone else and not be the only one to save the day.
Tango and Cash
Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell were both very successful in their own rights, so it was definitely a gamble for their careers to see whether the pair would work well on screen together. The film didn’t do as well as expected, but it is still one of my favourite films in this genre. Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are the top cops in LA who are set up by a criminal mastermind who wants to be able to continue his illegal activities without Tango or Cash interfering. Tango (Stallone) plays the more serious of the two, and Cash (Russell) a bit of a loose cannon who doesn’t do everything by the book.
Michael Bay directs Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Detectives Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey. In typical Bay fashion there is a lot of action and explosions, and the banter between the two main characters makes for some funny moments. The thing about films like this is that they are predictable, but predictability doesn’t necessarily make it a bad film. American film critic Roger Ebert put it perfectly when he said “Whenever a movie like this starts to drag, there’s always one infallible solution; have a car-chase and then blow something up real good.” , which isn’t really flattering, but it does ring true.
Image courtesy of Touchstone Pictures