On the Beat

“A police movie without ‘perps,' guns, or cars, On the Beat is as perversely droll in its own way as the latest Coen Brothers outing. Set in Beijing in 1994 (the Year of the Dog), it follows the on-the-job training of a rookie beat cop, Yang Guoli. The puzzling absence of any real crimes leaves plenty of time to chase rabid mutts and confiscate illegal pet dogs. But with no serious offenders to interrogate . . . Yang's frustration grows. Meanwhile, American action signposts like Hunter reruns and Marlboro posters mock his diligent efforts to preserve and protect Beijing's traditional social structure against capitalism's odious side effects. Ning's lucid, realistic style captures one small irony after another, while her deadpan nonprofessional cast of real policemen displays exceptional comic timing. In its subtle, low-key way, On the Beat is a pointed indictment of bureaucracy and hypocrisy.”

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.