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Third World Cop (July 26/03)

Here's proof that not just the Americans are capable of churning out cliched action flicks.

Third World Cop, shot entirely in Jamaica, follows an aggressive police officer named Capone (Paul Campbell) as returns to his hometown after his partner is killed. Once he arrives, though, he discovers a gun smuggling operation overseen by the local mob boss, the appropriately named One Hand (because he's missing a hand, you see). Like Dirty Harry before him, Capone prefers to shoot first and ask questions later - resulting in a tongue-lashing from his angry captain, who's been on the phone all morning with the commissioner.

Though Third World Cop is set in a place that's unfamiliar to most of us, there's not much in the script that we haven't seen before. The film is a mishmash of various police movie cliches, from the characters to the storyline, with few bursts of originality here and there. That's not to say the movie is all bad, though; surprisingly enough, Third World Cop never becomes the all-out bore that it should. A big part of that has to be the use of Jamaica as a setting. Presumably shot in the worst sections of the island, the film provides a unique look at a place most of us will never visit. Characters wander through dilapidated shanties, and paved roads seem to be non-existent. The film certainly has more of interest to provide visually than it does through its story.

Still, the movie's reluctance to progress beyond standard action cliches prevents it from becoming anything more than a mildly interesting curiosity. The film's been shot on an obvious low-budget, as evidenced by the use of digital video. But director Chris Browne does a nice job of infusing the movie with some stylish camera moves, while keeping the pace relatively brisk (though the film doesn't quite make Speed look like a slow ride to grandma's house, it's never boring). Among the actors, they range from surprisingly effective to amateurish (at best). In the former category lies star Campbell, who turns the character of Capone into someone we're genuinely rooting for. It doesn't hurt that his bad-ass demeanor and penchant for one-liners (after shooting a perp that was fumbling with his gun, Capone mutters "read the manual") turn the character into a throwback from the '80s. Capone's the sort of figure Stallone or Schwarzenegger would've played back in the day, and Campbell's performance is capable and intriguing. Though it's not really his fault, Campbell's incredibly heavy Jamaican accent makes it almost impossible to understand him without the assistance of subtitles (which is provided by the Lion's Gate disc, but oddly enough, not for every line of dialogue).

Third World Cop might be worth a look for those interested in the scenery that's offered, but the storyline is the sort of thing those made-for-TBS movies have cornered the market on.

out of

About the DVD: The Third World Cop disc is light on the supplements, with an uninformative 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a look at the soundtrack the notable extras. But the film's transfer is very impressive, clearly having come directly from the digital source.
© David Nusair