Directed by Benny Chan and written by Kiu-Ying Chan, Kiu-Ying Chan and Bey Logan, this Hong Kong film stars Edison Chen, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee, Paul Rudd and Maggie Q. It was released in the USA as a Syfy Original Film on the Syfy Channel in 2002, under the misleading title JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS: METAL MAYHEM. (Jackie Chan did have a cameo in GEN-X COPS, which GEN-Y COPS is a sequel to, but he doesn’t appear in this movie).
Undercover cops Match (Fung), Alien (Lee) and Edison (Shen) have to deal with a group of villainous tech guys out to steal the prototype American RS1 attack robot during an international military technology exhibition in Hong Kong, but Edison is injected with a hypnosis drug by former hacker friend Kurt, which compels him to take part in the theft of the American robot. Now the Hong Kong cop trio must attempt to recover the stolen robot whilst avoiding a bunch of trigger-happy FBI agents, led by Agent Curtis (Rudd), who believe Edison is a willing participant in the heist. Fortunately for the Gen-Y Cops, Jane Quigley (Q), another FBI agent dealing with the case, starts to believe Edison is innocent.
This sequel to GEN-X COPS (1999) begins with a demonstration of the RS1’s powers (back in the USA), where it withstands flames and heavy machine gun fire, can hit flying objects with pinpoint accuracy… and can delicately pick up a piece of tofu with its metal fingers (I’m sure that last ability will always come in useful for an attack-bot!) The RS1 does get momentarily hacked, however, though this doesn’t prevent the FBI from concluding it’s still safe to take this lethal killing machine to Hong Kong for the military tech show.
The technology exhibition show itself is wittily handled, introducing such robots as Hong Kong’s D1010, which can predict lottery numbers and is repeatedly mistaken for a trash can, France’s Jerry L robot, which gets its head ripped off in a fight with RS1, and China’s Tung Fung robot, which loses one of its arms during a display and is mockingly referred to as a ‘One-Armed Boxer’.
GEN-Y COPS has its fair share of lowbrow humour, including the moment idiotic cop Alien scrapes his dandruff into the FBI’s coffee cups, and any hope the film has of being taken seriously is severely hampered by the fact the protagonists, especially Alien, come across as borderline buffoons much of the time, with scenes of them accidentally blowing up a car and giggling like schoolboys, all of which prevents them from even remotely resembling professional law enforcement officers.
The script makes an effort to use a lot of English dialogue, written by Bey Logan, though it tends to depend too much on generic terms like “hey, man” and “goddamn it’, but the movie does finally kick into gear, proving to be a pleasing, amusing sci-fi-tinged actioner, with robot rampages, shots of the heroes diving in slow motion from explosions and a full body burn stunt during the finale.
Mainly brought to life via practical effects, the RS1 has a Transformers-like head and looks really rather good onscreen, using a rocket launcher, machine guns, a flamethrower and even an extendable fist to wreak havoc wherever it goes. It’s a shame, then, that a showdown with the Tung Fung robot at the end uses low grade CGI to create the Chinese automaton.
GEN-Y COPS gets an unduly bad rap from many reviewers, but it’s a mindlessly enjoyable, throwaway flick that boasts gunfights, flashbacks involving a man dressed as a lobster, kung fu skirmishes and a decent robot adversary. Plus, there’s the added pleasure of seeing a youthful Paul Rudd go from potential adversary to good guy, taking part in some Hong Kong-style fighting. He even speaks a little Cantonese!
My advice is to put your brain on hold and revel in the colourful nonsense.
The RS1 robot was made by Global Effects (Chris Gilman, Brian Bero, Jeff Jingle and Skip Wilder), who created one puppeteered robot, plus a costume. This suit was then repurposed/ remade for use as Chris Gilman’s ‘Protocop’ costume in KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005).