Don't Give a Damn
AKA: Burger Cop
Year of release: 1995
Director: Sammo Hung
Action directors: Sammo Hung Stuntmen's Association, Chin Ka-Lok, Yuen Miu, Cho Wing
Producer: Sammo Hung
Writers: Sze-To Cheuk-Hon, Kwok Wai-Chung, Chung Wai-Hung
Cinematography: Lau Hung-Chuen
Editing: Chun Yu
Music: Frankie Chan
Stars: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kathy Chow, Eileen Tung, Annabelle Lau, Timmy Hung, Jimmy Hung, Kelvin Wong, Ngai Sing, Dion Lam, Eddie Maher, Habby Heske, Roy Filler, Wong Chan, Robert Samuels, Shawn Patrick Berry, Yvonne Yung Hung, Nat Chan, Lau Kar-Wing, Leung Kar-Yan, Melvin Wong, Blacky Ko, Richard Ng, Chin Siu-Ho, Wu Ma
Rated II for violence and language
Movie Review Index
There are just a lot of things wrong with Sammo Hung's 1995 picture Don't Give a Damn. This was originally intended as a reunion of the "Three Brothers" of Hung, Yuen Biao, and Jackie Chan, an idea that fell through when Chan headed to Canada to shoot Rumble in the Bronx. Chan's departure from the production meant a lot of the financing fell through, making this movie look like the cheap and rushed effort that it was, a fact that is not helped by the shoddy presentation given to the movie via VideoAsia's DVD, which goes under the unfortunate alternate title of Burger Cop and looks like it came straight off of a bootlegger's stall -- which, given VideoAsia's modus operandi, is probably exactly what happened.
However, it is what is portrayed on screen, not how it was made, which has garnered Don't Give a Damn a bad reputation that led to this being one of the low points in Sammo Hung's filmography. There is the requisite misogynistic humor that permeated a certain segment of Hong Kong cinema at the time -- women being casually called bitches and getting kicked in the crotch while being told thay they're going to get a fart in the face -- high hilarity, all of it.
As bad as that is, it is nothing compared to how African-Americans are portrayed, specifically a scene where Takeshi Kaneshiro and Yuen Biao dress in blackface while uttering trashy lines such as "negroes are number one in raping". Some might say that the terrible subtitles might be to blame, but the intent is definitely there, no matter how it is translated. Anyone who has read this site for any length of time knows this reviewer is not one to be easily offended or put off, and is not one to embrace the ethos of political correctness. But the blackface segment is so embarrasingly bad, it brings down Don't Give a Damn as a whole.
In regards to the use of blackface in the movie, Robert (Bobby) Samuels said this on a Sammo Hung fan page on Facebook: "I have been answering this question for many years now. I just don't want people thinking Sammo is a racist. For the record, I was not in Hong Kong when this scene was shot. I had battled the script writer for months on his portrayal of African-Americans. Unfortunately, the writer had final approval of the script. Even Sammo was upset because I was living in his home at the time. However, we were under contract. The film business in Asia is not like any [where] else. Imagine how I felt opening night when I saw it."
There is a line of thought in film studies/criticism that still values movies with objectionable elements as valid works of art. For example, many scholars still view Griffith or Riefenstahl's works in this light, even though they were obviously used as racist propaganda. This reviewer is of the opposite opinion. In this specific case, a couple of decent fight scenes and some fun cameos from old-school stars can't alleviate the fact that Don't Give a Damn contains one of the most tasteless and ill-thought out sequences ever to come out of Hong Kong cinema, something that makes the movie uncomfortable (and perhaps impossible for some) to sit through.