Movies

Deep Netflix: ‘China Strike Force,’ Starring Coolio As A Drug Smuggler Named ‘Coolio’

The 2000 film China Strike Force, from Hong Kong director Stanley Tong (Super CopRumble in the Bronx), won my heart forever before I even watched a frame. It was a two-step process.

Step one: While spelunking in the deep, deep Netflix action movies archive one night, I spotted its box cover, which features a) the title; b) a picture of Mark Dacascos, best known as one of the stars of the live-action Double Dragon movie and the host of Iron Chef America; and c) a picture of Coolio. Color me intrigued. Color me very intrigued.

Step two: I rushed to Google — like, immediately — to find out more about the movie, where I was greeted with this description (emphasis mine):

Shanghai police Detectives Alex Cheung (Lee-Hom Wang) and Darren Tong (Aaron Kwok) stumble onto the massive cocaine smuggling operation of crime boss Tony Lau (Mark Dacascos) and attempt to take down Coolio (Coolio), the American dealer in his employ who is responsible for bringing the drugs into China. In the midst of the criminal activity, Alex gets engaged to the daughter of his superior, Sheriff Lin (Paul Chun), which adds personal tensions to an already heated case.

Did you catch the little slice of magic in there? China Strike Force is a movie that stars Coolio as a drug smuggler named Coolio. I have been thinking about this basically non-stop since I read it, and I have come to the conclusion that the only way it could be better is if another rapper had beaten him out for the role, but they kept the character name anyway. Examples include:

  • “… stumble onto the massive cocaine smuggling operation of crime boss Tony Lau (Mark Dacascos) and attempt to take down Coolio (DMX)”
  • “… stumble onto the massive cocaine smuggling operation of crime boss Tony Lau (Mark Dacascos) and attempt to take down Coolio (Ja Rule)”
  • “… stumble onto the massive cocaine smuggling operation of crime boss Tony Lau (Mark Dacascos) and attempt to take down Coolio (Skee-Lo)”

And so on. The point of all this being: I needed to see China Strike Force. And I did. And it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Allow me to explain.

China Strike Force comes out of the gate hot.

The following things happen within the first 30 minutes of the film:

– There is a murder at a high-end fashion show that results in two simultaneous chase scenes. One involves a cop chasing the murderer through the streets, leaping from speeding car to speeding car and at one point using the bed of a truck as a ramp to drive a motorcycle up to the second layer of a moving double-decker bus, whereupon a martial arts fight breaks out. The second chase involves the other cop chasing a beautiful woman in a ball gown on foot to her hotel, and ends at a mall attached to the hotel with the woman kicking a security guard in the sternum and then using the cop’s tie — still attached to his neck — as a rope swing to glide safely to the lower level of the mall and escape.

– There is another chase scene between Mark Dacascos’ character and one of the cops, in which Dacascos is driving a white Lamborghini Coolio has smuggled into the country for him, and the cop is driving a Formula One race car that he commandeered after getting tossed from the roof of the Lambo. Because he was flung directly toward an area where Formula One race cars were getting loaded onto a truck. Which was convenient.

– See that lady holding the crying baby up there? Dead. Dacascos shoots her in the face — “No witnesses” — after she stumbles across a traffic stop gone awry. China Strike Force does not play.

Coolio is, uh… really something.

I’m really not even sure how to begin describing the film’s fictional, drug-smuggling Coolio. I suppose I should start with the fact that he is so, so racist. Over the course of the film he says offensive things about the Chinese, the Japanese, the French, the Italians (“Eye-talians”), and Africans. Also, he mispronounces everything. Genghis Khan is “Jengis Can,” the Qing Dynasty is “the Zing Dynasty,” and, my favorite, Chairman Mao is “Chairman Mayo.” (NOTE: The fact that Hellman’s does not have a mascot named Chairman Mayo upsets me deeply and greatly as of about five seconds ago.) And yet, despite his ignorance and disrespect for multiple elements of Asian culture, he is a martial arts master. Coolio does martial arts in this movie. Or rather, a stuntman in a Coolio wig does martial arts in this movie. Either way, magnificent.

But the thing you really need to know about his character is that he really likes telling people about sh*t he could get used to.

China Strike Force. Good movie.

The dialogue. Oh my, the dialogue.

Selected excerpts:

“I don’t like my men ogling over nude women in lingerie. And I really don’t like it when someone’s murdered in my city, especially when the killer escapes.”

This is something the chief says when he hauls in the two cops after the first chase. I love his priorities. RULE NUMBER ONE: No looking at naked ladies. RULE NUMBER TWO: No murder. RULE NUMBER THREE: If there’s no way around number two, try not to let the murderer get away. I hope he starts the next morning’s meeting by writing these on the whiteboard.

“Ohh. You want bread? See a baker.”

These are the last words Coolio says to his personal bodyguard — the person responsible for the fashion show murder, per Coolio’s request — moments before shooting him to avoid making their agreed upon payment. This, to be clear, is hilarious.

“Coolio killed my partner two years ago.”

Speaking of things that are hilarious, the film using Coolio’s real name means that characters are saying things like this constantly. This particular sentence was said by the lady in the ballgown from earlier, who — SPOILERS — is secretly a Japanese Interpol agent. Whose partner was killed. Two years ago. By Coolio.

Coolio made a song and music video for the movie.

This is the official music video for the song “I Like Girls,” which Coolio — real Coolio, not movie Coolio, presumably — made specifically for the film. It contains footage from the movie, including the thing at the 0:45 mark where we find out that Coolio — movie Coolio, not real Coolio, presumably — has a person on his payroll whose job it is to remove his sunglasses for him. Seems nice. Like, say, the kind of sh*t a man could get used to.

Please also note the chorus of the song, which I have helpfully transcribed below:

Oo wee, I like girls, I like girls, I like girls
Oo wee, I like girls, I like girls, I like girls
Oo wee, I like girls, I like girls, I like girls
Oo wee, I like girls, I like girls, I like girls

He makes some good points.

It has one of the greatest endings to a movie you will ever see.

This YouTube video is grainy and not in English, but I assure you it is worth watching. I’ll explain what happens, for context.

So there’s a big drug deal at a great Chinese temple. To commemorate it, Mark Dacascos’ character buys Coolio some sort of purple and gold luxury car. Unfortunately for them, the deal
goes sideways and results in a firefight. Coolio attempts to flee in the helicopter that was going to spirit them away to safety, but Coolio, like, really likes his new car, so he loads it into a giant net — during the gun fight — and attempts to escape the crime scene by flying through a large Chinese city with it dangling from a rope 20 feet below the chopper.

This goes poorly. The cop who survived the shootout — R.I.P. other cop, BTW — and the Japanese Interpol woman climb onto the car and ride along as he flees, and as they fly through the city the weight of the car becomes an issue, and they end up crashing into a skyscraper, sending the Interpol woman flying onto an unbalanced glass platform that is hanging hundreds of feet in the air. The cop jumps onto the platform to attempt to even it out to save her, and then Coolio jumps onto it… for reasons.

The three of them — and again, I really can’t stress enough here that one of them is Coolio — proceed to have an extended martial arts battle hundreds of feet in the air on a slippery glass platform that is seesawing back and forth with their weight. The battle ends when Coolio’s precious car shakes loose and knocks him off the platform and sends him plunging to his death like Hans Gruber in Die Hard. This all begins around the 22:00 mark. More movies should end with Coolio engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the sky. I’ve always said this.

Anyway, obviously, I loved this movie, because I love any crappy action movie starring a rapper as an international drug smuggler. I wish it were its own category on Netflix. I’d never leave the house. But the real question here is whether you should watch China Strike Force. I think this one-star Netflix review sums it up pretty well.

Imagine all the cliche quotes from every movie you’ve ever seen and that’s the script. Horrible acting, stunts were ok at best, the plot was a joke, and Coolio repeating the same line in every scene turned this from a bad movie into a piece of film someone wiped their arse with and called it art. If making fun of terribad movies is your thing give this a shot as you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise… avoid like the plague!

Agree 100 percent.

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