I love you, man: top ten buddy-cop films

Two friends, two badges, an army of enemies and a big baddie, and a lot of fire-power – The Other Guys is out this month, to add to the buddy-cop film list. But which are the other ten worth a watch?

Most of us are more than happy to settle down and take in a buddy-cop film. The themes of friendship, comedy (sometimes dark, sometimes absent), and the spirit of justice is more than enough to drive a basic plot through a few glass windows and out of the building just before it explodes. There are a lot of top tens about on the web, but here at TFR Towers, we find that it’s best to go with films following a “common sense” rule: one person on the poster, does not a buddy-cop film make. Here’s our pick of the best, though feel free to interrogate us in the comments section.

1. Bad Boys

The cops? Mike Lowery, a cocky ladies’ man played by the ever-likeable Will Smith, and the straight-shooting, rather dour Marcus Burnett, by the calmer Martin Lawrence.

Arresting qualities? Smith’s fantastic use of humour bounces well off Lawrence’s stoic resolve and stern demeanour, and the pair make for an interesting tag-team as they take down the thieves of $100m worth of heroin.

2. Starsky and Hutch

The cops? Serious, over-worked never-toes-the-line David Starsky (Ben Stiller), and reckless, blonde-haired and broken-nosed Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson, played by the loveable Owen Wilson.

Arresting qualities? Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller have been together in a shedload of films, and while Wilson’s blue-eyed swagger makes for a great Hutch, Stiller makes the film even better with his Meet the Parents-esque neurotic persona as Starsky.

3. Die Hard With a Vengeance

The cops? Super-cop John McClane, played by the intimidating Bruce Willis, teamed up with Samuel L. Jackson’s stubborn, prejudiced and excellently-named cop, Zeus Carver.

Arresting qualities? Well, for one, it’s a Die Hard film, and as we all know they set the bar when it comes to action films. The pair, initially distrustful of each other, bond and go on to take out terrorists with an efficiency only achievable by McClane himself.

4. Hot Fuzz

The cops? Simon Pegg’s super-flawless Nick Angel, and Nick Frost as Danny Butterman, the bumbling son of the police chief.

Arresting qualities? Hot Fuzz is, quite simply, one of the best British comedies of its generation. Following the perfect cop (Pegg) who’s been sent to the tiny postcard village of Sandford for showing up his colleagues, he soon finds that life in the countryside isn’t as quiet as it seems. Hilarious, well-written, and some fantastic actors make for Britain’s finest buddy-cop film.

5. Se7en

The cops? Brad Pitt stars as city rookie David Mills, and Morgan Freeman’s William Somerset is partnered with him on his last case before he retires.

Arresting qualities? Pitt and Freeman are two of the best actors of the last fifty years, and their interactions, at first timid, but then more trusting and accepting of each other, makes for an interesting team when they track down Kevin Spacey’s haunting “seven sins” serial killer.

6. Rush Hour

The cops? Comedy dream team material: Jackie Chan as Asian super-cop Lee, who’s temporarily partnered with the sceptical but witty Carter, played by the equally witty Chris Tucker.

Arresting qualities? Jackie Chan always had a knack for making some of the most impressive martial arts choreography in action cinema seem hilarious and unintentional, and combined with Tucker’s sharp wit and cheeky delivery of his lines, this film (and its two sequels) are worth the effort – the credit-roll outtakes are the icing on the cake.

7. Training Day

The cops? Hardcore law-man Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) and rookie, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke).

Arresting qualities? The interesting portrayal of Harris’ corrupt methods and whether or not they’re justifiable as a means to an end involving handcuffs and medals is, to say the least, intriguing. Not to mention guns, serious cops and reliably great acting work from both leads.

8. Tango and Cash

The cops? Sly Stallone’s Tango and Kurt Russell’s Cash make for some fantastic banter, and of course, Stallone’s trademark warbling, mumbling, serious delivery of his lines. Perfect for a man on the beat.

Arresting qualities? Imagine making the bust of a lifetime, only for you and you buddy to be framed, imprisoned, and hunted by the very man you busted. This is the life of Tango and Cash, and it’s a whopper of a thrilling tale about justice and trust in the American judicial system.

9. 48 Hours

The cops? Nick Nolte plays Jack Cates, a cop and the sole survivor of a cop massacre, forced to recruit convict Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy in his first-ever film role) in order to catch another criminal, this time, one on the loose.

Arresting qualities? Well, aside from Eddie Murphy’s obvious comic potential, it’s an interesting tale of the initial distrust and later teamwork between a white, straight cop and a black convict, deftly dealing with racial stereotypes with comedy and thrills throughout.

10. Lethal Weapon

The cops? Homicidal cop Riggs (Mel Gibson) is forced to team up with the rather more formal, calmer version of himself, Murtaugh, played by Danny Glover.

Arresting qualities? Riggs and Murtaugh are comic inventions of the highest calibre, and the film is one of the funniest, most entertaining cop films of all time, the pride of many a cop-fan’s film collection. There’s nothing like watching two men fumble their way through the hunt for a drug lord as they attack each other’s attitudes, and it features Mel Gibson at the height of his career, whilst Danny Glover is witty and extremely well chosen for the role.

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