Buddy cop film
A buddy cop film is a film with plots involving two people of very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together to solve a crime and/or defeat criminals, sometimes learning from each other in the process. The two are normally cops, but some films, such as 48 Hrs. (a cop and a con), that are not about two cops may still be referred to as buddy cop films. It is a subgenre of buddy films.
Frequently, although not always, the two heroes are of different ethnicity or cultures. However, regardless of ethnicity, the central difference is normally that one is "wilder" than the other: a hot-tempered iconoclast is paired with a more even-tempered partner. Often the "wilder" partner is the younger of the two, with the even-tempered partner having more patience and experience. These films sometimes also contain a variation on the good cop/bad cop motif, in which one partner is kinder and law-abiding, while the other is a streetwise, "old school" police officer who tends to break (or at least bend) the rules. Another frequent plot device of this genre is for one of the men be removed from his natural element: sometimes in a foreign country or new city, a "desk jockey" used to paperwork being forced into the field, or a rookie or non-cop partner who is unfamiliar with police work. When this is done, the other man acts as a guide to the unfamiliar.
In his review of Rush Hour, Roger Ebert coined the term "Wunza Movie" to describe this subgenre, a pun on the phrase "One's a..." that could be used to describe the contrasts between the two characters in a typical film.
The cliché was satirized in the film Last Action Hero. While the movie in itself was a buddy cop film (i.e. pairing a fictional cop with a real world boy), the film's police department obligatorily assigned all cops a conflicting buddy to work with.
A subgenre of the buddy cop film is the buddy cop-dog movie, which teams a cop with a dog, but uses the same element of unlikely partnership to create comedic hijinks. Examples include Turner & Hooch, Top Dog and K-9.
Akira Kurosawa's 1949 Japanese film Stray Dog, starring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, is considered a precursor to the buddy cop film genre. Another early pioneer of the buddy cop film genre is the 1967 American film In the Heat of the Night. The genre was later popularized by the 1982 film 48 Hrs., starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, one of the most successful buddy cop films.
American buddy cop films
- 16 Blocks (depressed angry cop, and optimistic criminal)
- 2 Guns (DEA agent and NCIS officer)
- 21 Jump Street (geeky cop and cool cop)
- 48 Hrs. (1982) and Another 48 Hrs. (1990) (sloppy cop with slick convict)
- Alien Nation (human teamed with extraterrestrial)
- Armed and Dangerous (Fired cop and inept lawyer become security guards)
- Bad Boys and Bad Boys II (playboy teamed with family man)
- Beverly Hills Cop and its sequels (an unorthodox, street-smart cop teams with by-the-book cops)
- Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (FBI agent teams with his stepson)
- Black Rain (American cop teamed with Japanese)
- Blue Streak (ex-con impersonating an officer and a newly appointed detective)
- Brooklyn's Finest
- Bulletproof (undercover officer teams with a carjacker he befriended)
- Bullet to the Head (undercover officer teams with a hit man)
- Colors (rookie LAPD officer paired with a veteran LAPD officer)
- Collision Course
- Common Law
- Cop and a Half (child witness teamed with veteran)
- Cop Out (veteran partners who are constantly annoyed by each other)
- The Corruptor (American rookie cop paired with a veteran Chinese cop)
- Cradle 2 the Grave (Taiwanese cop teams up with an African-American jewel thief)
- Dead Heat
- Die Hard series – not strictly in this genre, but includes three films with a similar concept:
- Double Impact (not cops; twin brothers team up to find their parents' killers in Hong Kong)
- Double Team (not cops; counter-terrorism agent paired with an arms dealer)
- Downtown (a suburban patrolman teamed with a city cop)
- Dragnet (the 1987 film starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks)
- End of Watch
- Fair Game
- Freebie and the Bean (1974)
- The Gauntlet (tough alcoholic cop paired with female convict)
- The Glimmer Man (L.A. police partners who use different methods)
- The Good Guys (outdated maverick & by-the-book rookie)
- Hickey & Boggs (alcoholic, maverck police partners hunting a kidnapper)
- The Hidden (an alien cop teamed up with a human cop)
- The Hard Way (an actor teamed with a cop)
- Hawaii Vice (series of pornographic films that parody the buddy-cop genre)
- The Heat (film) (Hot-shot female FBI agent teamed with a streetwise female Detective)
- Hellbound (Chicago police partners on a mission in Israel)
- Hard Boiled (a cop inspector teamed up with an undercover cop)
- Hollywood Homicide (aging veteran L.A. cop paired with younger cop who wants to be an actor)
- I Come in Peace (originally known as "Dark Angel", a maverick police detective is paired up with a "by the book" FBI agent on the trails of an alien drug dealer)
- I Spy (no cops; secret agent teams up with a championship boxer)
- Invictus (white and black bodyguards are paired to protect Nelson Mandela)
- K-9 (human cop and police dog)
- The Killer (1989) (a hitman pairs up with a policeman who tries to hunt him down)
- Kindergarten Cop Two L.A. detectives set a trap for a drug dealer who is stalking his ex-wife in a small town in Oregon.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (small-time crook paired with gay detective)
- Knock Off (film) (tailor paired with CIA agents on a mission in Hong Kong)
- Last Action Hero (fictional cop paired with real world boy)
- The Last Boy Scout (hardened ex-Secret Service agent turned private detective teams up with disgraced American Football star)
- The Lethal Weapon series (by-the-book family man teamed with maverick)
- Life On Mars (Sam Tyler's 21st century policing methods conflict with the unprofessional methods of Gene Hunt)
- Loose Cannons
- The Man (2005 film)
- Marked for Death (ex-D.E.A. agent turned vigilante teamed with his old Army buddy)
- Maximum Risk (French cop paired with the girlfriend of his late twin brother)
- Men in Black (Tough guy senior agent of a top secret agency recruits young renegade urban cop)
- Metro (wacky police hostage negotiator paired with a tough S.W.A.T. team member)
- Midnight Run (bounty hunter teamed with well educated accountant)
- Miami Vice (2006 film based on the television series)
- Mississippi Burning
- Money Train (foster brothers/police partners paired with a Latino cop)
- National Security (disgraced former cop teamed up with wannabe who got him into trouble)
- The Other Guys (nerdy accountant-type cop teamed with aggressive, case breaking cop)
- Osmosis Jones (animated: above the law white blood cell cop with a by-the-book cold pill cop)
- Ozzy & Drix (animated: above the law white blood cell cop with a by-the-book cold pill cop)
- Point Break (young undercover FBI agent paired with seasoned FBI agent)
- Red Heat (Russian cop teamed with American cop)
- Renegades (American cop paired with a Native American civilian)
- Replicant (film) (cop paired with the human clone of a killer he's obsessed with catching)
- Righteous Kill (veteran police partners pursuing a vigilante they busted years ago)
- R.I.P.D. (recently deceased cop teams up with veteran supernatural cop)
- Ride Along
- Rising Sun
- The Rookie (stressed out, nervous rookie cop paired with seasoned Veteran cop)
- The Rundown (not cops, but a similar idea: a bounty hunter must team up with the target he was originally put in charge of finding)
- Running Scared (retiring cops find themselves having to make one final arrest)
- Rush Hour series (professional Chinese cop teamed with a loudmouth and obnoxious African-American cop)
- Se7en (educated cop about to retire teamed up with young, eager cop)
- Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights (no cops; Chinese- American former palace guard teamed up with American outlaw)
- Shakedown (1988)
- Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) (strong, tough American cop paired with Euroasian cop)
- Sherlock Holmes (2009) (two intelligent detectives, one sensible, one slightly eccentric, teamed up)
- Shoot to Kill (1988) (black FBI agent teams up with white outdoorsman to catch a killer in the Washington wilderness)
- Starsky & Hutch (streetwise intuitive cop teamed with reserved, intellectual cop)
- Tango & Cash (smooth cop teamed with scruffy cop)
- Taxi (2004) – Remake of the 1998 French film of the same title (see "Non-US films" below). Not strictly a buddy cop film, but a similar concept.
- Theodore Rex (human teamed with dinosaur)
- Top Dog (maverick human cop teamed with a smart German Shepherd)
- Training Day (corrupt narcotics cop paired with idealistic rookie)
- Turner & Hooch (cop paired with crime dog)
- Wild Wild West (U.S. Army officer teamed with U.S. Marshal)
- White Chicks (black FBI agents and brothers disguised as white women)
International buddy cop films
- Banlieue 13 (France) – undercover cop and anti-gang activist
- Roma Violenta (Italy) – violent cop against the criminals of Rome
- Bon Cop, Bad Cop (Canada) – Francophone and Anglophone Canadian cops
- The Guard (Ireland) – Irish Garda officer teamed with FBI agent
- Hot Fuzz (UK) – Tough, 'By The Book' cop teamed with overweight wannabe action cop
- Police Story 3: Super Cop (Hong Kong) – Hong Kong cop paired with a female detective
- Split Second (1992, United Kingdom) – A Rookie police officer is assigned to partner Harley Stone, a burnt-out and highly cynical homicide detective
- Stray Dog (1949, Japan) – directed by Akira Kurosawa, it stars Toshiro Mifune as a young cop paired with a more experienced cop played by Takashi Shimura
- Taxi (1998, France) – not strictly a buddy cop film, but features a cop and a taxi driver with dreams of entering auto racing
- Tiempo de Valientes (2005, Argentina) – A depressed cop paired with a psychologist.
- Dhoom (2004, India) – A cop paired with a thief.
In popular culture
- In the animated prime time series, The Critic, Jay Sherman reviews a sub par movie titled "Dirty Harry K-9-Robo-Cop-and-a-half 2" in which the title parodies numerous "buddy cop" films. In the film within a television show within a television show, Dirty Harry's constant loss of partners forces the police captain to team him with "a woman, a cute little kid, an ugly old dog, a dinosaur, and a leprechaun (which ends up exploding)." An Arnold Schwarzenegger character comments that he is partnered with "a pig, an alien, Siamese twins, a sofa, and a second rate mime (which explodes)." The scene parodies the aspect that a "partner" in a buddy cop film can be absolutely anything, no matter how strange it is.
- On sketch comedy series MADtv, a sketch appears for the trailer of a buddy cop film parody, known as The Seven Buddy Cops. The title refers to seven actors known for buddy cop films over the years (Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones). Another sketch from the series called "Cream of the Cop" featured a hardened cop Phil LaMarr partnered with a can of creamed corn.
- National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) starring Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson is a parody of the Lethal Weapon franchise, pairing the laid back Det. Luger character (Jackson, inspired by Lethal Weapon's Roger Murtaugh, portrayed as a by-the-book family man) and the fearless Det. Colt (Estevez, inspired by Martin Riggs, and described as a burnt-out, gun-happy psycho from the Narcotics Division).
- The Annoying Orange YouTube Series, features a mini video-series literally called Buddy Cop which parodies this genre. It features supporting protagonists Midget Apple and Marshmallow as amateurish buddy cops, with Marshmallow still possessing his usual childish, immature nature as a cop.
- Ebert, Roger (September 18, 1998). "Rush Hour". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2006-06-25.
- "FilmInt". Film International (Sweden: Kulturrådet) 4 (1–6): 163. 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2012. "In addition to being a masterful precursor to the buddy cop movies and police procedurals popular today, Stray Dog is also a complex genre film that examines the plight of soldiers returning home to post-war Japan."
- "The Critic" Season 2, Episode 20: "Sherman of Arabia"