Rush (1991)

Grimy in all the best ways.

A dark slice of neo-noir, the only film directed by Lili Fini Zanuck rocked me back in the early days of video stores.

The tale of undercover cops who make really bad decisions, then watch the world crumble from beneath their feet in sickening fashion, it stars the underrated Jason Patric and the always-top tier Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Chasing after a slick, but sinister crime boss, the duo find themselves lost in the job, unable to stop their descent into drug abuse and murder.

This one leaves a bitter, but bracing, aftertaste for days.

Serpico

Yes, they are out to get you.

Al Pacino is riddled with paranoia as a straight-arrow cop who sinks into the mire, ratting out fellow boys in blue while always expecting a bullet.

Based on real events, Sidney Lumet’s lacerating tale of good guys gone bad remains one of the seminal ’70s films, and for good reason.

As a man who refuses the offer to sell his soul, Pacino notched the second of his nine Oscar nominations.

That landed him in a Best Actor death cage match featuring Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, and winner Jack Lemmon.

Hoo-ah, indeed.

21 Jump Street

What a nice surprise.

For some reason, Hollywood decided the best way to make films from beloved TV cop shows of the past was to turn them into raunchy comedies.

Big-screen versions of Baywatch and CHiPs epically blew and sucked, but this revamp of the series which launched Johnny Depp, was a refreshing blast of joy.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have great chemistry, Ice Cube skewers every boss to ever demand a gun and badge, and the jokes work.

Yes, they make fun of the often-silly premise of the original, but they do it with love, and not condescension.

 

Infernal Affairs

Always go with the original.

The Departed is strong, and, while Martin Scorsese should have won his Oscar for a landmark film like Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, it’s worthy of its honors.

But don’t sleep on the Hong Kong crime thriller which provided Marty his inspiration.

The first in a crackling trilogy, Infernal Affairs is a sleek, intense descent into Hell, as a cop and a crook hide in rival worlds, each one intent on staying alive by rooting the other out first.

You may know the plot, but pay respect to those who crafted it first, and best.