Wayne Crawford is a veteran B-movie actor-turned-director (Jake Speed) who says his current ambition is to make direct-to-video movies with steamy romance, chase/chop action, and exotic locales. Here, Crawford has taken the oh-no-not- again cop-buddy theme and added a few grace notes of self-deprecating humor and human fallibility.
The buddies at issue are Elmo LaGrange (Crawford himself), a grizzled, Rockford-like old pro who's divorced and living in a decrepit old RV; and Peter Russo (Martin Hewett), a stylish young chronic bungler who's LaGrange's new partner in the LAPD auto-theft division. Setting out to break what appears to be the world's largest hot-car racket, LaGrange and Russo stumble onto an elaborate scheme in which Hong Kong's top racketeer (James Hong) is smuggling his treasury out of the royal colony before the Chinese takeover coming up in 1997. Lending a hand is the racketeer's assistant (Susan Byun), a Eurasian beauty who provides her boss with business advice and the movie with its requisite steamy romance. On the whole, as Crawford's first attempt at cooking up this film formula, Crime Lords is surely satisfying enough to encourage a second try.