• Cop

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: March 1st, 2016.
    Director: James B. Harris
    Cast: James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning, Charles Haid, Raymond J. Barry
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Longtime Stanley Kubrick collaborator writer/director James B. Harris may have had an easy time getting the rights to novelist James Ellroy's novel that formed the basis of 1988's COP, but that's where easy street ended. What initially seemed like a sweetheart financial deal turned out to be a nightmare when the studio that financed the film went bankrupt. After sort of disappearing into a black theatrical hole the movie popped back up on home video in the early 90s. Which is where I first saw the film - on a Blockbuster rental shelf.

    Part of actor James Woods' most prolific period in the mid-80s, COP isn't an easy movie to come to grips with. As a police procedural, it's a mess. As a thriller, it's a bit weak. Where it succeeds is as a character study featuring an energetic Woods performance. If you are looking for a taut crime drama or traditional action film this isn't the place to look. But if you want to revel in some really interesting quality sleaze with some pitch black humor mixed in, this is a solid choice.

    Woods is detective Lloyd Hopkins. He's got the usual baggage – shitty marriage, womanizing personality, drinking problem. He's also got a very young daughter that he's completely crazy about. Problem is, he can't keep his job out of his home life. You know this movie is a little off when one of the first crucial scenes has the detective telling a bedtime story about his police exploits to his daughter that happens to be filled with profanity and gruesome violence. It's an absurdly hilarious moment - made all the funnier by the angelic child's enjoyment of the story. The rest of the film has Hopkins on the trail of a serial killer who's butchering women. The killer is somehow tied into the local feminist writing scene of all things.

    COP has a strangely mean-spirited streak that makes it oddly compelling. Hopkins is a creep - he's pretty much obsessed with getting in the pants of every attractive woman between 18 and 45 he meets, and while he's an intuitive investigator, his methods are brutal and clumsy. This is a guy who thinks Miranda is "a bitch he's never heard of" and isn't above (or below, really) police brutality or manipulating vulnerable women for sex. When he runs across an attractive local - and mentally damaged - feminist bookshop owner played by Leslie Ann Warren, Woods' attempts at seduction find the film at its politically incorrect peak. Warren spills her guts about her history of sexual abuse and what does Hopkins do? Practically fall asleep. He's interested in getting laid - not being empathetic.

    Warren is good in the film as is stalwart Charles Durning as Hopkins' police connection. The rat of the cast is filled out with solid character actors like Charles Haid as a sketchy fellow cop/suspect. The location L.A. shooting looks great and while the ending is a total cliché everything moves quickly.


    Kino's 1.85:1 framed AVC encoded image is another competent presentation with some minor issues. This is a moderately grainy film, and fine detail in the darker scenes is just above average. Skin tones look natural but the inherent softness of the way this was shot hampers anything approaching mind blowing fine detail. The good news though is it looks significantly better than the DVD. And no DNR or digital tinkering is evident. Audio is above average though with the 2.0 DTS-HD MA track showing some careful mastering and nice dynamics. Nothing here ever comes close to the red zone - something that's a bit of a rarity these days. This is a strong presentation.

    The only extra here is a commentary track with director/writer Harris. This is actually an outstanding track and completely worth your time as a listener. He's full of great stories about the production and his long history of working with Stanley Kubrick. He's got a lot of really cool insights into the movie business and he's funny and engaging. The stories about the film's financing alone should give anyone interested in the Hollywood game serious pause. Harris covers working with Ellroy and has a lot of praise for everybody else that he worked with on the film. I would describe this track as easy-going, informative, interesting and fun. Definitely a thumbs up.

    The Final Word:

    COP won't win any awards for originality. It's also kind of crass. But if you like James Woods, enjoy slimy 80s L.A. and are politically incorrect you'll probably get a big kick out of this one. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I was going to pass on COP but this sounds interesting. Nice review.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I really like this film. I think Woods is terrific in it, and the final scene is a killer (geddit?) I'd say this is my favourite James Ellroy adaptation, with BROWN'S REQUIEM coming in second.