Hot Fuzz is that rare breed of movie that manages to be a genre parody and a love letter to that genre at the same time. The action comedy - starring frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and directed by groundbreaking auteur Edgar Wright - is a pitch-perfect sendup of every action movie trope you've ever seen, but told in a way that embraces, subverts, and relishes those same time-honored filmmaking cliches.
Hot Fuzz tells the story of a big city English policeman named Nicholas Angel (Pegg) who's so good at his job, he makes the rest of the department look bad, so he's transferred to the sleepy, idyllic village of Sandford, in Gloucestershire. He soon befriends a fellow officer named Danny (Frost) who has a deep love of all action films, and is bored as a cop because it doesn't live up to what he sees in the movies. Soon, however, as slayings start piling up and a conspiracy unfolds, their lives begin to reflect high-octane, over-the-top Hollywood fare.
The movie goes out of its way to make direct references to the action movies it parodies, including a scene in which the two heroes spend a drunken evening watching Point Break and Bad Boys II - the two films parodied most directly later on - well into the wee hours. Hot Fuzz doesn't simply call out action cliches for a laugh - it dives into the pool of cinematic tropes and gleefully splashes around in the fun. Here's a look at all the cliches Hot Fuzz parodies perfectly.
Firing Two Guns While Jumping Through The Air
The Cliche: Because two guns are apparently better than one, action movies love the visual of a hero wielding two pistols while leaping through the air in slow motion.
Where You've Seen It: Bad Boys; Bad Boys II; I, Robot; Desperado; almost every John Woo film
How Hot Fuzz Does It: Throughout the film, Nicholas tells Danny that, despite his extensive history fighting crime in the big city, he's never "fired two guns whilst jumping through the air," much to Danny's disappointment. When the final gunfight in the town square finally arrives, Nicholas has embraced his inner action hero in a big way, and the two buddy cops make their entrance into the town pub by leaping in from the doorway and duel wielding two sidearms each as they shoot at the nefarious barkeeps. They fail to hit either of them, as would be expected in real life, but there's no denying they look awesome doing it.
The High-Speed Pursuit
The Cliche: The hero is an expert driver with lightning-fast reflexes who can handle any and all obstacles (almost always including a woman with a stroller) as they chase the bad guy at high speed.
Where You've Seen It: The French Connection, Bullitt, Bad Boys II, Baby Driver
How Hot Fuzz Does It: Nicholas is as by-the-book as cops come, but he's also earned top marks in every field at the academy, including defensive driving courses. Sometimes, he shows it off - like when he and Danny have to chase a loose swan through the streets of Sandford. Their twisting, winding chase of a bird is shot with all the kinetic energy of a heist flick. However, it's the more flashy Danny who gets behind the wheel during the film's climactic high-speed pursuit, so that Nicholas can lean out the window and fire at the car they're chasing.
The Cliche: The hero - and often the villain or sidekick - has razor-sharp wit and can fire off a well-crafted pun at exactly the right moment.
Where You've Seen It: Every James Bond film, Die Hard, Predator, Lethal Weapon
How Hot Fuzz Does It: Instead of just tossing one-liners off without making a big deal out of it, the characters of Hot Fuzz recognize how hard it is to be funny in the moment. During a fight between Nicholas and a hulking baddie, the super-cop manages to incapacitate him by slamming him into a freezer full of veggies. When Danny hears about it, he asks, "Did you tell him to 'cool off'?" Nicholas admits he didn't really say anything at all, but recalls how he delivered a timely pun earlier in the day. For these cops, witty one-liners are appreciated and celebrated.
Firing A Gun Into The Air
The Cliche: The hero has his sights set on the villain, who is running away to freedom, but he can't bring himself to take the shot, so he fires into the air in anger and impotent frustration.
Where You've Seen It: Point Break. Specifically Point Break.
How Hot Fuzz Does It: This is one of the many action tropes called out directly in the film, only to later be performed by one of the heroes. Danny is very overt about his love for Point Break, especially the emotional moment when Keanu Reeves has his piece trained at Patrick Swayze, but has gotten so emotionally involved with his prey that he can't bring himself to take the killshot, and instead unloads his entire magazine into the air in frustration.
At the end of Hot Fuzz, it's revealed that Danny's father, Chief Inspector Frank Butterman, is the mastermind behind all of the town's carnage. After a climactic fight, Danny is lying on the ground and aims his piece at his father as he's running away. He, of course, can't bring himself to shoot, so he fires a dozen rounds into the sky while screaming - a moment inspired directly by his internalized love for Point Break.