Bon Film, Bad Film

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Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a 2006 bilingual Canadian R-rated buddy cop film from Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm starring Canadian actors Patrick Huard and Colm Feore. Directed by French-Canadian Eric Canuel and shot totally in Canada, Bon Cop, Bad Cop boasts Canadian humour, locations, and references. With the plot set in both Ontario and Quebec, the film divides its lines between French and English, sometimes rapidly switching between the two mid-line. Subtitles were supplied for separate Anglophone and Francophone versions on release, making the movie accessible to all audiences. While some jokes fall flat as the tone of the movie wears on in the last act, overall Bon Cop, Bad Cop is an enjoyable (if raunchy) watch.

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Warning: Spoilers!

Ontarian Anglophone cop Martin Ward and crass Quebecois Francophone cop David Bouchard meet when a body is found hanging from a sign over the Ontario-Quebec border. Their cultural differences clash instantly--Ward views Bouchard as unprofessional, and Bouchard can see only Anglophone rigidity in Ward. Given the nature of the crime, they are assigned to work together on the case by their superiors, a resolution neither cop is fond of.

The body is identified as hockey executive Benoit Brisset. Ward and Bouchard visit a roadside bar, looking for suspect Luc Therrien (Sylvain Marcel). Ward and Bouchard's methods clash, and after a bar fight, Therrien is tied up in the trunk of Bouchard's car. With Therrien still in the car, Bouchard takes Ward to his daughter's ballet recital, having previously promised to attend. Afterward, the two find Bouchard's car being towed, but the car explodes before they can confront the tow truck.

Deciding to follow Bouchard's suggestion to wait to report the explosion, the two head to Therrien's home for more clues. There, they find the dead body of a former hockey team owner and set a marijuana grow-op in the basement on fire. With both cops high on the fumes, they report in to Bouchard's chief, who dismisses them from the case.

After another body is found in Toronto, Ward and Bouchard realise the killer is tattooing all his victims with clues to the next murder. Every victim is connected to hockey in some way, and the two cops join forces again to warn who they suspect the next victim will be. They are too late, and he goes missing before they can act.

Ward and Bouchard appear on a hockey broadcast show that the victim was meant to guest on, hosted by Don Cherry-parody, Tom Berry (Rick Mercer). As Berry and Bouchard fight, the Tattoo Killer calls in and claims he's already tattooing the missing guest. He is disconnected, but not before threatening Ward and Bouchard.

Later that night, Therrien--not truly dead--attacks Ward. The two realise that the body in Bouchard's car was not Therrien, and that Therrien is working with someone else.

Bouchard's daughter is kidnapped and strapped to a bomb by the true Tattoo Killer (Patrice Belanger). Ward and Bouchard track him down, offering to exchange Therrien and hockey executive Harry Buttman (Rick Howland) for Bouchard's daughter. The killer, having been directing Therrien all along, does not listen to their attempts to reason, becoming incensed when they insist hockey is just a game. The Tattoo Killer views hockey as a source of Canadian nationalistic pride, and is distracted by Ward in his anger as Bouchard unties his daughter. Ward manages to disarm the bomb as the killer runs.

Bouchard pursues the killer as he tries to escape in Ward's car. The killer flips the car and, after a fight, runs back to where Bouchard's daughter had been held. He dies in an explosion, as Ward rearmed the bomb once Bouchard's daughter was freed.

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Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm

Bon Cop, Bad Cop's inside jokes are directed at a specific group of Eastern bilingual Canadians, but when they land, they land well. The use of bilingual humour reinforces the inter-provincial setting, though some of the more rapid fire jokes will be lost on all but the most fluent viewers if they opt not to use subtitles.

One of the most successful jokes concerns translation curses between English and French. Bouchard, as he stuffs Therrien in the trunk of his car, casually explains to Ward how he can string together French curses for increasingly explicit effect. Ward later demonstrates what he's learned in a colourful string of shocked French expletives as he watches Bouchard's car burn. These moments are where the chemistry Ward and Bouchard have shine, with both moving out of their stereotypical rivalry and into an unconventional partnership.

Rick Mercer's cameo is charmingly abrasive, and all the more effective for managing to not over exaggerate the personality of the men he's parodying. Quebecois comedian Louis-José Houde's role as a coroner is quick, succinct, and hilarious, with both English Ward and French Bouchard commenting that his joual speech was equally unintelligible to them both.

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Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm

Still, Bon Cop, Bad Cop's humour feels too specific at times for a general audience. The tone of the movie doesn't seem to know if it wants to be as dark as it comes across, and so some of the more juvenile jokes--Harry Buttman instead of Gary Bettman, for example--feel out of place. A lot of the humour relies on regional stereotypes and inside jokes, as well as knowledge of the NHL, so people from other backgrounds will likely feel lost at multiple points in the plot.

David Bouchard spends much of the movie as a loudmouthed bad cop, and at times it feels forced. The inter-personal drama that arises from Ward and Bouchard concerning their love lives feels out of place for the two, and with Bouchard's more relatable moments few and far between, it's hard to feel for him. Though Bouchard's crass attitude is meant to play off of Ward's more buckled down approach, Ward comes across as less of a stereotype and more of an average person.

The more dramatic moments often don't have enough time to hit home before the film switches back to humour, which can confuse the audience. By the last act, the movie's confused tone feels as though it's dragging on. The sudden seriousness doesn't play well with the setup before, and the climax feels a little lost and rushed. Therrien's reveal is played in a one-two punch, giving the audience no time to absorb, and the identity of the Tattoo Killer is understated and not a shock.

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Bon Cop, Bad Cop's resolution would be more satisfying if the climax was stronger, but there is a wry humour in it that viewers may appreciate. Though Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a movie most effective with a specific, Quebecois or Ontarian bilingual audience, it's a good watch for anyone looking to have a few Canadian laughs.

Overall, Bon Cop, Bad Cop earns three out of five hockey pucks.

2 Comments

Ah, yes! I remember watching this movie in High School! Your review is on point! Couldn't agree more!

I heard somewhere that Quebec comedy is among the best and most crude. I think your review makes that evident. Well done.

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