One Tough Cop (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Although the critics didn't care for this movie, the problem with One Tough Cop isn't the quality. It is competently performed and directed.
 The problem, in a nutshell is this:
  • you've seen in before, many times, and
  • you didn't like it that much the other times



Gershon and Baldwin make love under the covers, but there is a brief glimpse of one of Gershon's butt cheeks as she leaves the bed.

 Y'see, this film is just the official collection of cop-and-mob movie and cop series cliches from the past. For starters:
  1. the film starts with a hostage crisis broken up by the hero and his partner
  2. the partner is a drunk and a gambler, but a good cop, gosh darn it
  3. the hero is an insubordinate maverick, but the best darned cop on the force, gosh darn it
  4. the hero's best childhood friend grew up to be a mafia don
  5. (let me point out here that there is one cliche they forgot. The childhood buddies should have been a threesome, and the third one should have become a priest - sure, he'd be tough, and a maverick, maybe punch out a stuffy bishop once in a while, but the best darned priest in New York diocese, gosh darn it)
  6. the hero's partner has run up massive gambling debts with the hero's boyhood friend slash mafioso.
  7. the hero's childhood sweetheart is the kept woman of the mafioso
  8. when the woman and the mafioso break up, our hero slips into her  ... bedroom
  9. the cops hang out in bars and get drunk a lot
  10. the local lowlifes rape a nun
  11. the cop's superior constantly chews out Our Hero, even though his name is not McCloud, and he's the best darned cop on the force, gosh darn it
  12. the FBI thinks our hero is a dirty cop because he consorts with known criminals, and has been seen passing money to them. They want him to bug his childhood friend.
  13. he refuses to bug his friend, so the FBI frames him and gets IA on his ass

As you will see if you think about it, there's only one way out of the crisis. The mafioso and the partner have to kill each other, so Our Hero doesn't have to betray either of them. 

That isn't exactly what happened, but the result was the same - they both died. If that isn't a convenient enough ending for you, if you just have to have more improbable resolutions of irresolvable situations, you may enjoy that the department's IA board concluded that the FBI lied, reinstated Our Hero with honors, and gave him more decorations than Patton.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Two versions: widescreen  1.85:1, and a fullscreen version.

  • no meaningful features

It may sound like a whitewashed version of Bad Lieutenant, and it is in a way, except that they separated the good and bad sides of Keitel's character and distributed it to two different people. But the crucial elements are the same. Cop with substance abuse and gambling problem, raped nun.

Actually, it isn't really a rip-off. In fact, the movie is based on the biography of Bo Dietl, a real NYPD cop. Unfortunately the bio is (admittedly) fictionalized, and the movie version is completely self-serving. It portrays Bo as an idealistic guy who never gave one thought to himself, but only to his friends and the good people of New York, gosh darn it. You may recognize his name, as Officer Dietl is now retired from the force, and is a regular guest on the Don Imus program, and he's the best darned guest they have, gosh darn it.

I have been a little bit unfair. Although the Dietl character is probably more suitable for sainthood than police work, the character of the mafioso was a reasonably good attempt to portray a well-rounded human being who listens to reason, negotiates fairly, admires courage and bravery in others, breaks off with a woman he loves because he wants to do right by his wife and kids, and sometimes exhibits some bravery, integrity, and community concern, despite his chosen profession. So I give the film credit for at least a little thoughtfulness. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: fewer than two stars. Ebert 1/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, Apollo 56/100.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 20% positive overall. Only the two major critics cited above

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.6, Apollo users an identical 46/100. 
  • With their dollars ... took in only a million dollars, despite a fairly wide distribution (415 screens, 11 weeks)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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