Good Cop Bad Cop

4 out of 5

Directed by: John DeBello

I may have seen a slim selection of Lorenzo Lamas films during late night, teenage viewing, and made a note to my future self to revisit this dude when I had a better appreciation of B-movies.

Well, the future has arrived, and that note floated into my mental inbox, asking: hey, what about that Lamas fella? Randomness intervened and I somehow wound up starting back on this journey with 1998 DTV entry Good Cop Bad Cop, the no-budget opening of which – involving some taking-photos-of-something-he-shouldn’t-be-taking-photos-of undercover type getting shot by a dude wearing a goofy sci-fi helmet and wielding a giganto pistol – does not bode well for the film’s quality. But after a stiff credits sequence, which pans over the same mood-setting candles, back and forth, we get a little pick-me-up: that opening has encouraged some cop guy to come knocking on ex-cop guy Jake Kilkanan’s (Lamas’) door, and the film takes a beat for a joke in which Jake is trying to rouse a shape in his bed – conventional B-movieness would have this be a half-naked girl – and it turns out to be a dog, eager to bark at the door-knocker for his master. This is… cute! And pretty funny. Hereafter, the comfort with which Lamas spars exposition dialogue with cop guy – and the woman he’s been tasked with protecting (Catherine Lazo), and another cop friend who fills him in on the drug-trading baddies that the woman’s husband is involved with – flitting into and out of quips and quirky literary references (people, Camus is not a deep cut) makes for an amusingly low-stakes pace and tone, sprinkled with enough shoot-outs, knife fights, and kicks to remind you that it’s an action movie.

Writer / director John DeBello, Lamas, and Lazo, all know what kind of flick they’re making, and so the energy put in is commensurate to that – which isn’t a bad thing; rather, it gives the movie some interesting wiggle room in introducing little asides (a cranky old-timer in the desert), and in allowing its story to explore a little bit without having to reach for deep meaning or impact.

Not required viewing; not the best or most exciting DTV movie you’ll see; but it passes the time very effectively, and Lamas’ laid back snark and references to Thomas Aquinas help to solidify a fun legacy in the world of low budget.