Buddy cop movies take two (or more) people with different personalities that conflict and clash with each other and forces them to team up in order to solve a crime, defeat criminals or sometimes having to prove their innocence. The characters have to learn how to work together, all the while comedy ensues.
This sub-genre of movies has been around since the early 80s and has had some ups and downs ever since. The buddy cop movies the elements from the action genre and the comedy genre and mixes them to a perfect blend. Well, mostly a perfect blend.
I can only assume someone sat down one day and thought of taking The Odd Couple and putting it together with Dirty Harry. It was like putting chocolate with peanut butter, putting macaroni with cheese or putting bacon with… well anything. You get the point.
Here are my quintessential buddy cop movies of all time. With one tiny rule, there has to be at least one police officer of some type in the group.
30. The Glimmer Man (1996)
Starring: Steven Seagal and Keenen Ivory Wayans
Directed by: John Gray
A spiritual ex-government operative turned LAPD detective Jack Cole (Seagal) teams up with a tough-talking, no-nonsense detective Jim Campbell (Wayans). They are partnered together on a case when a series of gruesome murders start. Things heat up when one of the victims is Cole’s ex-wife. The two have to work together to find the killer and prove Cole’s innocence.
29. Running Scared (1986)
Starring: Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Now this movie is a little different where the two main protagonists are already partners and get along great. Ray Hughes (Hines) and Danny Costanzo (Crystal) are Chicago police officers that do things their own way. Their methods of police work may be a little unorthodox, but it gets the job done. After a near-death experience, the two want to call it quits, but first, they want to take down the big drug dealing bad guy once and for all.
28. Rush Hour (1998)
Starring: Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker
Directed by: Brett Ratner
When Chief Inspector Lee (Chan) of the Hong Kong Police Force comes to Los Angeles to help with the kidnapping of a high profile friend’s daughter (that’s a mouth full), the FBI wants none of it. So they partner him with LAPD’s “finest” Detective James Carter (Tucker) to act as a glorified babysitter. Lee is a stiff and serious police officer that doesn’t mess around. Carter is a loudmouth that seems to work best when ad-libbing. They learn to work with each other to find the kidnappers and save the young girl.
27. Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991)
Starring: Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee
Directed by: Mark L. Lester
Sgt. Chris Kenner (Lundgren) is an American police officer with a strict Japanese upbringing and doesn’t like American culture much… even though he’s white. He is given a new partner, Johnny Murata (Lee) who is Japanese-American but doesn’t like Japanese culture all too much. Although they have differences, they both love martial arts. They’re assigned to LA’s Little Tokyo and work together to take down the Iron Claw Yakuza clan.
26. Armed And Dangerous (1986)
Starring: John Candy and Eugene Levy
Directed by: Mark L. Lester
Directed by the same guy as the previous movie, this one is more of a straight comedy, but has its fair share of action. Frank Dooley (Candy) loses his police officer job after being framed for theft. He then joins a security guard agency. He’s teamed up with incompetent lawyer turned security guard, Norman Kane (Levy). After failing to stop a robbery at the warehouse they’re guarding, they begin to uncover corruption within the security agency they work for.
25. Alien Nation (1988)
Starring: James Caan and Mandy Patinkin
Directed by: Graham Baker
In the near future of 1991 space aliens called the Newcomers have come to Earth and are now integrated into our society. Police detective Matthew Sykes (Caan) loses his partner during a shootout with some criminal Newcomers. He’s then reluctantly partnered with a freshly promoted Newcomer detective Sam Francisco (Patinkin). Sykes is obviously biased at first but puts his feelings aside to work with his new partner, trying to make a connection with the case they’re on and the one where his partner died.
24. K-9 (1989)
Starring: Jim Belushi and Rando (the dog)
Directed by: Rod Daniel
Sometimes the best partner comes in the form of a dog and that’s why K-9 makes for a great buddy cop movie. After all, we’ve already had aliens on the list. San Diego police detective Michael Dooley (Belushi) likes to work alone, but when he’s up against the wall, needing to nab a successful drug dealer, he enlists the help of an unorthodox drug-sniffing dog named Jerry Lee (Rando). At first, it’s like the original odd couple, but soon learn to respect each other while taking a bite out of crime.
23. Osmosis Jones (2001)
Starring: Chris Rock and David Hyde Pierce
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Inside the body of Frank a zookeeper, Osmosis Jones (Rock) a wisecracking white blood cell police officer is on the case to find a deadly virus killing everything inside the body of Frank. Jones is partnered with Drix (Hyde Pierce) who is a 24-hour cold relief capsule. They have to find the virus before he puts an end to Frank. Time is ticking as this super virus is making Frank sicker by the minute.
22. Space Cop (2016)
Starring: Rich Evans and Mike Stoklasa
Directed by: Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman
Space Cop (Evans) is a… well a cop, from the future of space. The year 2058 to be exact, but then while chasing some aliens, he’s caught in a time rift and sent back to Earth in 2007. While stuck here, he becomes a… cop to president day 2016. During a botched break-in, Detective Ted Cooper (Stoklasa), a police officer from the 70s, is unfrozen from cryosleep. The two work together on the case of The Gold Digger and learn of a bigger plot involving the space aliens that Space Cop was chasing all those years ago, in the future.
21. Tango & Cash (1989)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell
Directed by: Andrei Konchalovsky and Albert Magnoli
Ray Tango (Stallone) and Gabriel Cash (Russell) are the two best narcotics detectives in the LAPD. They’re a mismatched team, but they have one thing in common, they like to work alone. However, they’re forced into a partnership when sent to prison after being falsely accused of murder. They break out and quickly start to put everything together in order to take down the drug kingpin that got them put behind bars.
To be continued!