The Ten Best Buddy Cop Movies

A good buddy cop movie can go a long way.  They don’t have any deep profound meanings or cause one to reflect on life’s eternal struggles.  But what they do provide is some mindless entertainment that is always good for a few laughs.  Obviously, I’m not referencing the drama suspense category in films featuring cop partners such as THE FRENCH CONNECTION or SEVEN.  The term “buddy” signifies a lighter teaming that focuses on action and humor, while “cop” is a loose term for anyone in law enforcement.  This means the list will not contain a cop paired with a civilian or criminal like 48 HOURS, THE LAST BOY SCOUT or SHANGHAI NOON.  While they may have been a source of inspiration, the list will not include this summer, which seems to be packed with the return of the buddy cop genre with recent films like 2 GUNS, R.I.P.D. and THE HEAT.  But 2 GUNS looks to replace TANGO & CASH, while R.I.P.D. will probably be forgotten as a sad knock-off of MIB.  Not since 1988’s FEDS has a studio paired females together in a buddy cop picture.  Sadly, its few funny moments weren’t enough to find a spot on this list, but the recent estrogen pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy will surely find its way on a future list and will probably garner more than a few sequels like some of the other films on the TEN BEST BUDDY COP MOVIES.  For the record, I don’t necessarily love these films, but I love their spirit.

Special Mention: BEVERLY HILLS COP – In his glory days, Eddie Murphy was king.  Detroit cop Axel Foley (Murphy) heads down to Beverly Hills to investigate a murder, in a film that would surely fight for one of the top spots. BEVERLY HILLS COP unfortunately breaks my rules by pairing up three rather than two and therefore cannot be counted.

James Belushi in K-9

10. K-9 – James Belushi actually came very close to having two films on this list.  Anyone remember RED HEAT with Arnold Schwarznegger?  Sorry Arnie, I chose the dog partnership.  Two dog cop movies came out in 1986.  While Tom Hanks’ TURNER & HOOCH might be superior, they technically were not partners (yeah, I’m taking this seriously).  So by default, Belushi and his official police pooch in K-9 win the spot.

9. THE GUARD – This odd pairing of Don Cheadle as a straight-laced American FBI agent and Brendan Gleeson as an extremely unorthodox, slightly corrupt and even a little racist Irish policeman, might be the most nontraditional choice on the list.  The two team up to take down an International drug smuggling ring, while providing some very dry and very dark humor.

Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone in Tango and Cash

8. TANGO AND CASH – This is a classic case of ‘it’s so bad it’s good.’  Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone pair up as couple of rival best cops in the city.  Jack Palance is a bad guy more keen on playing games than actually winning that he constantly gives our heroes outs while simultaneously torturing them.  Raymond Tango and Gabriel Cash spend the film spouting off one liners to one another with a vague plot of escaping from prison and clearing their names.

7. RUSH HOUR – “Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?” is the only thing I remember from the fish out of water pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker that lasted for three sequels.  RUSH HOUR made millions, which I think says a lot for the genre itself as long as you can keep making interesting teams.  It does have charm.

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys

6. BAD BOYS – Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (whatever happened to him?) are the epitome of the whole Michael Bay action film phenomenon before he became his own parody.  Whenever I see that ridiculously awesome wrap around shot in films, I think of BAD BOYS.

Go to Page 2 to see the rest of the list

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