Crime Lords (1991)- * * *
Directed by: Wayne Crawford
Starring: Wayne Crawford, Peter Hewitt, James Hong, Susan Byun, and Ted Le Plat
L.A. Cops Elmo Lagrange (Crawford) and Peter Russo (Hewitt) are partners, but also an Odd Couple of sorts. Lagrange is a crabby curmudgeon and perhaps not the best physical specimen on the force. Russo is young, hip, idealistic, and happenin' - his stylish mullet tells that tale. On the trail of some CRIME LORDS, the two men fly to Hong Kong. So now they're an Odd Couple, Cops On the Edge and now Fish out of Water. Getting mixed up with Ling (Hong) and Jennifer Monahan (Byun) lead them to the ultimate confrontation. But will they survive their Hong Kong escapade?
At the time of this writing, there are almost 1,300 reviews on this site. So perhaps it makes sense that then, and only then, would we be getting to Wayne Crawford. We have that luxury now, in 2024, but video store patrons in the early 90's would likely not have rented 1,300 movies before they got to Crawford. Consequently, it seems, not a heck of a lot of people discovered the charms (?) of Wayne Crawford.
Crawford looks like a cross between Sam Waterston and Leo Rossi. He claims to have a "spare tire", and is unshaven and cynical. His Comeuppance-relevant credits include White Ghost (1988) and L.A.P.D.: To Protect and to Serve (2001). His partner in 'Crime is Martin Hewitt, known for his run of Erotic thrillers in the 90's. There is a scene, presumably played for laughs, where he and Crawford get into a fight while wearing only their underwear. Perhaps this served as a good training ground for what he did later on.
Buddy cop movies were all the rage at the time, and Lethal Weapon (1987), Red Heat (1988), and Action Jackson (1988) ruled the video stores of the day. This seems to be the inspiration for Crime Lords. Throw in a WYC, Captain John Strauss (Le Plat), some silly dialogue, wacky situations, but also some fish-out-of-water cop action in Hong Kong, and there you have it. Most, if not all, of the cliches that you would expect to see in this sort of material are indeed present and accounted for. That's not a bad thing.
The main drawback to Crime Lords is its pacing issues, which are very noticeable throughout. But it was nice to see those old one-color computers with their dot matrix printers, and other nostalgic items on display. Plus there was a scene with a flicked cigarette that showed some cinematic ingenuity on Crawford's part (he also directed the film).
Clearly the Elmo Lagrange character was near and dear to his heart, because he returned in American Cop (1995). In the end, however, Crime Lords isn't exactly must-see viewing, but it's entertaining enough for what it is. If you've seen every other buddy cop movie ever made and are looking for another one, there's always Crime Lords.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty