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2013 has seen the release of two major Buddy Cop movies, 2 Guns and The Heat and since the inception of the genre since the early 1980's they have become a staple in the cinematic history. It is a genre that has supplied us with many action-comedy classics and Hollywood often turns to it. So let us look at what elements what Buddy Cop movies work.
Action, Comedy and Drama
One of the big features of the buddy cop genre is that they offer a great combination of comedy, action and drama. The best buddy cop movies like the Lethal Weapon series and Hot Fuzz were both excellent comedies and excellent action movies. Many of these movies have memorable moments with these elements. Good buddy cop movies also have a dramatic elements (like many good comedies), such as Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs in 1987’s Lethal Weapon, a homicide detective suffering from extreme grief and seriously contemplating suicide.
It is a cliché, but it is very true, buddy cop movies often focus two mismatched officers are partnered together. Sometimes it is on a base level such as race, but most often we get two detectives with different personalities, with one being the straight man and the other the rogue, maverick, comic character, etc… It is a troupe of the genre but it still works.
The buddy cop genre is not parody and satire itself and there are comedies are love letters. Hot Fuzz is one of most well known homages, taking the Hollywood action genre to a small English village and references many action movies, particularly Point Break and Bad Boys II. The Other Guys is a movie that took the approach of looking the cops who are stuck in the office to do paperwork and The Last Action Hero took a very meta approach and is now a cult classic.
Different Types of Action
It is easy to think that the buddy cop genre is simply going to shoot outs, car chases and some fist fights, but there is actually a lot of variety in the genre. Besides from the standard action fare from someone the likes Richard Donner, we have seen the Bayham of everything being stylized or using plenty of pyrotechnics, Edgar Wright using plenty of blood and gore and Jackie Chan’s martial arts being used in the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon series. Even sci-fi style action has been used in movies like Men in Black.
Diverse Locations, Settings and Styles
Buddy Cop movies are often set in major American cities like New York, Los Andreas, Miami, etc…, but the genre does has shown diversity in both its locations and even crossing over to other genres. Hot Fuzz took the American Buddy Cop genre to English Countryside with all the bravado you would want. Rush Hour 2 reserved the fish out of water style by taking Chris Tucker to Hong Kong and movies like Men in Black and Shanghai Noon have moved the Buddy genre to sci-fi and the Old West. Even 2 Guns has taken the genre to the desert whilst The Heat has changed the genre up by having two women as the leads.
One of the big advantages of Buddy Cop movies from a studio point-of-view is they often offer strong box office returns and a number have led to becoming franchises. There are many movies with teams ups that audience love and leading to sequels, notable examples being Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys and Rush Hour. People want to see these characters interact even more and sequels are a good way to do that. There is still talk about Bad Boys III and Lethal Weapon 5 being in early stages of pre-production over the years.