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Hot Fuzz aka Rural Weapon Part 1 – Flash and Spectacle Amongst the Bucolia: Wanderings 12/52

Hot Fuzz is a British made buddy cop action comedy film released in 2007, directed by Edgar Wright and co-written by him and its lead actor Simon Pegg.

In the film over achieving London police officer Nicholas Angel, played by Pegg, who takes his work very seriously, is relocated to Sandford, a place which initially appears to be a typical sleepy quaint British village.

However things are not as they seem and Angel and his colleagues are soon embroiled in a murderous conspiracy by prominent members of the village who are intent that no matter what Sandford will continue to win Village of the Year; cue fellow villagers and visitors who may get in the way of that being sent to their demise via the likes of large-scale explosions, tumbling masonry, and decapitation in a car accident.

In Sandford Angel is presented as somebody who is somewhat out-of-place after the hustle and grittier experiences of city policing, something which is heightened by his wearing of modern protective police wear and equipment despite him being likely to need it in the general peace and calm of his new surroundings. This is also in contrast to his new police duty partner Danny Butterworth, played by Nick Frost, who at least until the later action sequences, is more likely to be seen wearing a woolen policeman’s jumper and in both character and appearance is possibly nearer to the idealised image of the classic friendly British country policeman.

Butterworth is portrayed as a quite sweet, gentle, good-hearted soul but also as somebody who, in a similar manner to the film itself, is enthralled to the classic American buddy cop action film, the glamour of the shoot out and the chase etc and also more than slightly in awe of this “big city” newcomer and his metropolitan experiences.

Edgar Wright has said that he wanted to make a cop action film because unlike much of the rest of the world at the time Britain did not particularly have a tradition of such cinema – although to a degree it did on television via the likes of gritty police drama The Sweeney (1975-1978).

(As an aside in Hot Fuzz the two police detectives, both of whom are called Andy Wainwright and are played by Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall, seem to be channelling similar characters from some earlier decade in terms of their belligerent swaggering attitude, top lip moustaches and vaguely period clothing – sort of The Sweeney via 1980s police timeslip series Ashes to Ashes which was broadcast in 2009 to 2010.)

There have been a long line of American buddy cop action films such as Point Break, the Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon series of films etc (the first two of which are explicitly referenced in Wright’s film and he has said that he originally pitched the film as Rural Weapon) and as with many of such films at the heart of Hot Fuzz is the relationship between the contrasting characters of two “buddy” police officers, in this Angel and Butterworth.

Hot Fuzz transfers Hollywood action and cop movie aesthetics to a British rural setting and makes direct and indirect references to such American films in an often humorous manner but it is not so much a parody, spoof or satire of them but rather an affectionate homage and seems to hold its source material in high esteem.

Despite the relatively high production values, special effects and so forth, in some indefinable manner that is separate to its setting and characters Hot Fuzz retains a sense of being British drama – there is a subtle awkwardness to it that seems to reflect a film industry that has never fully embraced the flash and spectacle of Hollywood style cinema.

Connected to which there is a curious disconnect when watching an at times all out action film of this type set in a British village, its local supermarket etc and on seeing American style action, heroics and gunplay undertaken by British policemen, with much of the film’s humour and character being derived from the appearance and use of the trappings of wider cinema’s action cop films, such as chases, fight scenes, automatic weapons and explosions etc in the unexpected setting of a rural British village.

In this sense it shares some territory with Malcolm Pryce’s book Aberystwyth Mon Amour, which depicts a modern-day parallel world version of the Welsh seaside town Aberystwyth but which is run by druids who are essentially to all intents and purposes actually “gangsters in mistletoe”.

Alongside referencing American buddy cop action comedy films Hot Fuzz also makes a more than cursory nod towards other genres including Westerns and previous British horror and folk horror films, in particular The Wicker Man, The Omen, gothic Hammer Horror and even giant monsters on the rampage in the city films.

More on which in Part 2…

(Exploring similar territory to the current trend for alternative movie poster reinterpreting of films; the finding an old mine and arms cache scene in Hot Fuzz depicted in Lego construction bricks.)

 

Elsewhere:

Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:

 

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