Top 10 Buddy Cop Movies (Video Edition)

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

This weekend we will get the chance to see an unconventional buddy cop movie in THE HEAT starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. So, lets look back on this great sub-genre of movies that hit their heyday in the 80s. Coming into the last decade they have skewed more as comedies, but we have gotten a some that have been funny as hell. Here are the best of those movies presented in all their guns blazing glory. If your favorite didn’t make the cut, let us know in the talk backs below!


Okay, so it is not the best movie on the list, but this is my list damn it! I love TANGO & CASH. It is just so 80s, so cheezy, and so…perfect! Jack Palance as the villain is great, Kurt Russell in drag is terrifying, Sylvester Stallone sounding intelligent is confusing, and Teri Hatcher is smoking hot. Oh, plus this movie taught me the term FUBAR. I can watch this movie any day of the week and sometimes I do. I laugh at the funny parts and love the action scenes. This is my favorite buddy cop movie of all time. Yeah, I think I may even watch it over LETHAL WEAPON. Now, unleash the Talk Back Kraken!


The series that is the epitome of buddy cop films, LETHAL WEAPON brought us the slaptick maniac Riggs and his too old for this shit partner Murtaugh. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson would never top their roles in these movies. The sheer perfection of the crazy Australian cop and his straight-laced partner flipped ethnic stereotypes and gave us truly believable characters and ones fans still wish they would see to this day. Even the third and fourth films, while not as good as the first two, are still a blast.

#3 – 48 HRS.

Often considered the first true “buddy cop” movie, 48 HRS. built on the mixed race duo revolutionized in IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Adding a comedian like Eddie Murphy brought a new element to the film where you could have action, drama, and lots of laughs. The movie never shies away from being a mix of all those things and delivers on all fronts. Stay away from the lackluster sequel but enjoy this movie for the great Walter Hill direction and the chemistry between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. Man, what happened to those guys?


Here is another Shane Black masterpiece. Any time Black’s name is mentioned you should be uttering KISS KISS BANG BANG. The film that brought Robert Downey Jr back to us and showed us he was more than a drugged out former star, KISS KISS BANG BANG is a masterful screenplay that is brought to life by RDJ and an excellent Val Kilmer. It is a shame these three didn’t team up for more projects but we will always have this movie as a testament to how great a film can be regardless of box office results.


Yes, I know the video above is from BAD BOYS II, but these entries encompass all of the movies in a series. BAD BOYS and BAD BOYS II are both Michael Bay films but vastly different. Where the first movie plays like a Bay version of LETHAL WEAPON, the sequel feels like TRANSFORMERS without robots. Pure unadulterated destruction and violence are rampant in the films, but it is the comedic timing of stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence that make the movies great. They both play the drama and action well and you never question if they are right for the roles. Neither will be mistaken for an Oscar winner but they are both fun as f*ck.


Another Damon Wayans movie made the list? Hell yes it did! THE LAST BOY SCOUT is one of those movies that never gets the cred it deserves. While the characters aren’t really cops, Shane Black’s screenplay uses all of the tropes of those films and applies them to these two guys who operate outside of the strictures of the law. A fun movie full of quotable lines that is made all the better by the late Tony Scott’s visually amazing direction. Ain’t this a bitch?


Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost gained a fan for life with SHAUN OF THE DEAD and SPACED. When HOT FUZZ came around I was very excited and then watched it only to find that it didn’t quite live up to my SHAUN OF THE DEAD expectations. I immediately watched it again and with each successive viewing I enjoy it more and more. Once I allowed myself to watch it as a British take on Michael Bay movies it worked so much better for me. The ridiculously violent closing act is by far the funniest action scene I have ever seen.


THE OTHER GUYS could have been an awful movie. But, Mark Wahlberg showed the world his hilarious side while Will Ferrell toned himself down to create the funniest pairing of cops on the big screen. Taking the best of the improv skills of the cast and crew fostered over ANCHORMAN, TALLADEGA NIGHTS, and STEP BROTHERS, I firmly believe THE OTHER GUYS is the best of Adam McKay’s movies. Michael Keaton’s character quoting TLC, Ferrell’s past as a pimp, and Wahlberg’s dance skills are all just little aspects that contribute to making this a non-stop laughfest.


While this movie spawned unnecessary sequels that didn’t live up to the original, RUSH HOUR was a fun fish out of water movie that catapulted Chris Tucker to fame. While it also pushed Brett Ratner to success, please don’t hold that against the movie. Jackie Chan is great and Tucker plays the comedy scenes really well. I liked the second movie and hated the third, but this first movie is still a fun one to catch on cable from time to time.


I feel that ALIEN NATION doesn’t nearly get the credit it deserves. Despite spawning a sequel and a television series, ALIEN NATION was best in this original movie starring James Caan. The story of aliens who live amongst us is the ultimate mismatched partner scenario. This movie could have easily turned into a spoof or a comedy but the film plays it serious and tells a damn good science fiction thriller.

Honorable Mention – BULLETPROOF

How dare a movie starring Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans make this list! For those of you who have seen BULLETPROOF, you know it is an underrated comedy with some decent action scenes. It also features an underplayed performance from Sandler who doesn’t allow himself to go too over the top which results in a very fun movie. I still quote the Disneyland scene to this day.


About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.