John Frankenheimer’s Ronin was a primer on film car chases, equaling William Friedken’s set pieces in The French Connection and To Live and Die in L.A. and surpassing Peter Yates in Bullitt (though, The Seven Ups has the best car chase scene in film history).
In James Foley’s The Corruptor, you can see the worst car chase in all of film, a 25 mile per hour snorefest through the alleys of NYC’s Chinatown. One straight line, very low speed, back and forth, back and forth. One Adam 12 had wilder high speed pursuits.
The “chase” is indicative of Foley’s ineptitude with the action genre (Foley’s best work has been in the non-action category – Glengarry Glen Ross and After Dark, My Sweet. His principals – Mark Wahlberg and Yun Fat Chow – kill everyone in sight with handguns, loaded by their inexhaustible supply of clips. And if you are firing at Wahlberg or Chow with a machine gun, you will miss, but you will also break a lot of glass. Indeed, the opening action sequence is a shootout in a lamp and ceramic store.
So, the action is ham-handed and sadly, the script sucks. In a nutshell: Old vet meets young rookie, who has been assigned to Chinatown. Old vet tells young rookie, “You don’t change Chinatown. It changes you.” Or something like that, because Chow’s English is a little iffy, so the line may come across as follow: “Ru don chanse Chintown. It chanses ru.” Thereafter, we hear the patented “dow, dow, ding” of Chinese massage parlor music.
Chow’s principal strength is the ability to make his eyes go all crazy just before he’s about to shoot a bunch of guys.
Wahlberg, who can be effective when leashed very tight, merely sleepwalks through this muddle.