It starts out with a dead body that has been found hanging from a street sign demarcating the border between Ontario and Quebec. Da Chiefs of both provincial police forces, eager to foster the spirit of cooperation and to keep this case out of the federal RCMP's hands (so it looks good come budget times), assign two of their officers as partners to crack the case. From the Sureté Du Québec is David Bouchard (played by Patrick Huard), a chain-smoking, rules-breaking violent Cowboy Cop with an attitude. He finds himself partnered with Martin Ward (Colm Feore) of the Ontario Provincial Police, a "square-head" whom even his son finds dull.
Much of the movie's humor comes from how it plays with the stereotypes English-speaking Canadians have of French-speaking Québécois—and, of course, vice-versa. The movie guest-stars numerous personalities from both sides of Canada such as Rick Mercer as an Expy of Don Cherry and Louis-José Houde as a Motor Mouth coroner.
The movie billed itself as a bilingual movie as both cops will often switch between each others' languages. It thus came with subtitle tracks for whatever language wasn't native to where it was released. The movie was a commercial success, and is Canada's highest (or, adjusted for inflation, third-highest) grossing movie.
A sequel has been released in 2017, taking place ten years after the first one. David is now an undercover cop investigating a ring of stolen car traffickers, and Martin is part of RCMP. David has barely changed, though his personal situation has gotten better (well, aside from the "living as a punk" part of his undercover operation). Martin, meanwhile, has gotten harsher and more determined to be the "bad cop" of the two. And yet, they have to team up again to stop the greater scheme lying beneath the operation David is investigating. However, the sequel downplays the cultural clash between English Canada and Quebec, and instead addresses themes around Canada's relationship with the United States.
The movies contain the following tropes:
- Berserk Button: In the sequel, Mike hates being called Michel. David naturally keeps pushing it every time he can.
- Bilingual Bonus: The movie is best appreciated with a proper understanding of both English and Quebec French, since the subtitles tend to have problems showing the colorful Quebec swearing. See the language course scene.
- At one point, the coroner mentions that Rita the barmaid's name backwards is "a' tire". Literally meaning "she shoots", this is Quebecois slang for "getting with someone". This is not explained in either language during the film, but insinuated that the French audience would get it.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Justified. The main characters have different native languages.
- Bilingual Backfire: Turns out Martin speaks French just fine, though with a strong Parisian accent. Lampshaded by David.
- Buddy Cop Show
- By-the-Book Cop: Martin.
- Canada, Eh?: The film plays with the stereotypes Canadians have about themselves and one another. For example, the plot revolves around hockey, and the two main characters are living embodiment's of how their people are often seen by the other group:
- David the Québecois is in an overly emotional, anger-prone man with no respect for authority with a low-to-middle-class appearance.
- Martin the Ontarian is neat, by the rules, traditional and boring while projecting an upper-class "better than you" image.
- The sequel adds American stereotypes into the mix, showing the Maine cops that arrest David to be overly stressful about terrorism (not entirely unjustified; after all, David arrived in a car that exploded in front of the cop' eyes), and the men at the station, seemingly unaware that there's such a thing as French Canadians.
- Captain Ersatz: The filmmakers obviously couldn't get the rights to the names of real National Hockey League teams, so equivalents to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadians, and the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche are used. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman appears as CHLnote Commissioner Harry Buttman.
- Cluster F-Bomb/Gratuitous French/Angrish: "Shit de fuck de shit de merde de shit de câlisse de TABARNAC!", and coming from the straight-laced Martin, it's especially hilarious.
- For context: in Quebec, swearing is largely based on corruptions of religious references, and can be strung together with the word "de" ("of"). While the phrase above doesn't really translate, if you're familiar with the cultural background the "Tabarnac" at the end is the biggest bomb of the bunch.
- Cool Big Sis: Cool Little Sis, in fact. Martin's little sister is much cooler than he is.
- Cowboy Cop:
Martin: I'm gonna start drilling, and when the sun shines through what's left of your face it will light the place like a fucking disco ball!
- David. As the film goes on, Martin starts becoming one.
- By the sequel, Martin became a full on cowboy due to being estranged from his family and suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
- Criminal Mind Games: The Tattoo Killer's MO.
- Da Chief: Two of them, for the SQ and the OPP.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both cops, though with his more restrained attitudes, Martin does it more often.
- Death Seeker: Martin in the sequel, his son cutting ties with him and his illness makes him really uncaring for his own safety and those of others, shown as he walks toward a shooter without cover and guns him down without a care in the world.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:You can't put me in a car trunk!
Oh, yes we can. It's a Quebec tradition!
- Eagleland: The obnoxious, Texas-accented American hockey tycoon, who loudly says "I'm gonna make hockey as Texas as a big fat American steak. Not that poison Canadian shit."
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Vive le Québec libre!
- This phrase is another reference to Canadian history. It was made during a 1967 speech in Montreal by France's then-president Charles de Gaulle. His use of that phrase was seen as encouraging the Quebec sovereignty movement, and caused a significant diplomatic incident with Canada.
- Faux Affably Evil: Dipietro is all smile and promise he'll pay the carjackers' bail if the get caught, however if they so much as brag about it in a bar he'll kill them slowly. He is also perfectly willing to assist terrorist attack for the right price.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: Depends which language is foreign to the viewer.
- Fun with Subtitles: In theatres, the French version has subtitles over the English dialogue, with the reverse being true for the English version. On DVD, there are six subtitle tracks: two for each language (either for the whole film or just for the parts in a different language); one track for French subtitles during the French parts and English subtitles during the English parts; and one for French subtitles during the English parts and English subtitles during the French parts. The all-French track exists to allow speakers of native French to watch the film.
Martin: Non, je ne parle pas français. Je me suis fait installer un petit gadget au cerveau and I see subtitles under people when they speak. (No, I don't speak French. I had a little gadget installed in my brain et je vois des sous-titres sous les gens quand ils parlent.)
- The extra fun in-film happens when Martin reveals that he's fluent in French. Each half of his Take That! line is in a different language; and in the Québec version of the film, subtitles in French appeared during the language switch:
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: The method itself is not used, but the movie's title is a play on this. Bon is French for Good.
- Ironically, the French cop would probably be the bad one if they did decide to play Good Cop, Bad Cop, but the choice of "Bon" in the title also helps to underline the fact that both cops initially see their partner as a pain in their side.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Unsurprisingly, a corpse impaled on a billboard can't support the weight of two grown men hanging from either side.
- Hidden Badass: He may look like a gay accountant, but we can assure you, he's not an accountant. He's former bomb squad.
- I Have Your Wife: Daughter, actually.
- Intoxication Ensues: Burning cannabis farms is fun!
- Jurisdiction Friction: At the beginning, when they find the corpse on the Québec/Ontario border. The corpse's waist and legs are on the Ontario side, his head and torso is on the Quebec side. The cops start arguing who should handle the case.Martin: His heart is in Québec.
David: Ya l'Ontario dans l'cul aussi! (Translation: He's got Ontario up his ass)
David: But his ass belongs to you.
- And the whole cooperation thing starts because their bosses don't want the RCMP (the federal police force, in case you were wondering) to get involved.
- Ludicrous Gibs: What happens to the Tattoo Killer in the end.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: Just look at the page image.
- Missing Mom: Martin raises his son alone, since his wife left them to marry a British noble.
- Mood Whiplash: Plenty in the sequel, the best example is when Martin threatens Mike with a power drill only for both David and Martin to start laughing when they see the drill clearly doesn't have a battery.
- Motive Rant:
- The Tatoo killer ends up revealing his motive to David during his hostage situation. He was sick of "the gang of fuckers" who whored out hockey to the U.S. by trading players, and as the movie showed tried moving a team to Texas. He found another malcontent and gave him the means to start serial killing. When called out on it being just hockey he reacts aggressively.
- The Big Bad from the sequel is a F.B.I agent who wants to use his stolen car operation as a way to bomb mosquees all around the United States and goes on a lengthy speech about it to his underling.
- Motor Mouth: The (French-speaking) Coroner, lampshaded even:Martin: I'm sorry but I didn't get half of what he said...
David: (In French) Don't worry, me neither, but as long as we got different halves we're good.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Matthieu aussi.
- Justified. Bouchard is encouraging the girls (using the word "girls" specifically), so he still has to encourage the lone boy in the dance class too.
- The Napoleon: Buttman. Michel in the sequel is relatively short and try to act as a tough pimp, insisting on being called Mike since it sounds tougher.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In addition to the thinly disguised parodies of NHL teams, several characters are obviously based on hockey personalities:
- Harry Buttman is obviously NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
- Likewise, Rick Mercer plays an ersatz of Don Cherry, an infamous hockey commentator.
- And many of the victims of the Tattoo Killer are ersatzes of NHL team owners and officials.
- Mr. Arbusto is one for George W. Bush. (Arbustonote Energy was an oil company founded by the former President.)
- Not So Different: Both Martin and David are obsessed with the past, (which is also a commentary on the stereotypes they embody), especially past tragedies in the forms of their respective broken marriages. Something the villain also shares: he focuses on how hockey has changed.
- Odd Couple: Both cops represent regional stereotypes as seen from the other part of Canada. The Quebecer David is a disorganized, rude, foul-mouthed cowboy cop who lives in the past (appearing to never have gotten over his wife divorcing him) whereas Martin is boring and obsessed with the rules.
- Oh, Crap!: David gets a few. One when he realizes he's late for his daughter's ballet recital, and two when he realizes that the Tattoo Killer has made it personal by kidnapping her after his accomplice attacks Martin in his own home.
- Papa Wolf: Martin might have a distant relationship with his son but he'll make sure he is safe.Martin: I don't care about saving the world I just want to save my boy.
- Plot Hole: There are a ton of these, including:
- Why did the first body get dropped from a helicopter, other than to lead the cops right to the pilot?
- Why did the Tattoo Killer kill Rita? There wasn't anything she hadn't already told the police.
- Rita's death actually raises a whole host of plot holes; the killer would've had to have been in the bar when Martin and Ward showed up, followed them after they left, gone back to the bar, kidnapped Rita, picked up a bomb, gone back to the car, broken into the trunk, pulled someone out and put another person in while it's parked in front of a public school, then driven away. And, again, all for what reason?
- What is Bouchard doing in Toronto when the next victim turns up? Martin has only just confirmed it's a related case, so it's not like he could be there because of it. Did he just miss Ward, or what?
- Why does the Tattoo Killer go after Ward and Bouchard's families? He says it's to keep them from interfering, but the cops have been a step behind the whole movie, and have just hit a complete wall in their investigation. He has no reason at all to fear their involvement.
- Police are Useless: The Maine cop arresting David is so scared and stressed out that David has to handcuff himself since the guy can't do it properly, then he waits a few minutes with David on the ground to take his breath. The others aren't doing any better as they have no idea what to do with an alleged terrorist aside waiting for the feds to get there and trying small talk since it'll take a while.
- Properly Paranoid: Dipietro has David's blood tested to see if his fake story makes sense, David however made sure to drug himself and look like a criminal on the run in anticipation.
- The American cops are afraid of David and are very, very careful with him, though from their point of view, the guy they just arrested was running away from a car about to blow up and speaks a language they don't understand.
- Punk in the Trunk: Complete with a lesson on how to swear in Québécois French.
- Put on a Bus: Martin's sister married an old and rich banker before the sequel.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: It depends on the version you're watching, since the movie is bilingual. For the English version, the scene with the French coroner is untranslated and passes by quickly. The French cop later admits he didn't understand what was said, either.
- Ward actually jokes about seeing them at one point.
- Rock Star Parking: Bouchard hurriedly parks in a handicapped spot right outside the front of the school when he's late for his daughter's ballet recital. Predictably, it gets towed. Unpredictably, it explodes.
- Serious Business: The Tattoo Killer murdered people he thought were killing hockey in Canada by trading the best players to the US.
- Slobs Vs Snobs: With a side helping of Canadian Accents. Ward, the Ontario cop, speaks Parisian French and the very-rarely heard Canadian Dainty English. He is not only an anglophone, but posh **as hell**, having studied at Upper Canada College (equivalent to, say, Eton). Bouchard, in contrast, is francophone and **working-class**; aside from his rather decent high-school English, he speaks his native French in an accent known as *joual* (a rough transcription of the word for "horse").
- Shout-Out: In the sequel, the Swedish Chef is name-dropped as police officers in Maine try to figure out what language David is speaking. The male officers then settle on David possibly speaking Swedish... while the lone female cop tells them that there is, in fact, such a thing as a French Canadian language.
- Take That!:Bouchard: How come you have such a strong accent in English and French? Who was your teacher? Jean Chrétien?note
Ward: Ça fait pas très classe. (Not very classy.)Jeff: Angelina Jolie... elle en a, des tattoos. (Angelina Jolie, she's got tattoos.)Ward: My point exactly.
- Also one to Angelina Jolie, in regards to a nicely-dressed victim's post-mortem tattoo.
- Tempting Fate: The good news is, it can't get any worse.
- Theme Naming: All the targeted hockey executives are given names like Buttman and Grossbut (pronounced "grow-buu"; it's French!) You know, butt-related names.
- Grossbut doubles as a pun in French too: it sounds like "Big Goal" (Gros But), which considering he worked with a Hockey team...
- Trailers Always Spoil: The sequel's posters make a point of featuring the characters in front of American flags, with taglines hinting about crossing borders. The scene of David being questioned in Maine by cops who think he speaks Swedish was also in every trailer.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: By the end of the first and the sequel, Martin and David are ribbing each other in a friendlier way and despite the ten years time skip they talk to each other as old friends.
- Wire Dilemma: Averted, Ward knows which wires to pull but he is injured and needs both hands.
- Worst Aid: Invoked, David must make his escape from Martin real so Dipietro take him back, since Martin shoots him in the shoulder he has to treat his gun wound the way a criminal on the run does, making bandages out of napkin, drinking coffee and using ecstasy as anesthetic.
- You Gotta be Fucking Kidding Me: Ah, Famous Last Words.
- More or less how the Montreal chief reacts when he is the only one not speaking English.