Hot Fuzz is a 2007 satirical action comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. The three and the film’s producer Nira Park had previously worked together on the television series Spaced and the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead. The film follows two police officers attempting to solve a series of mysterious deaths in an English village.
Over a hundred action films were used as inspiration for developing the script. Filming took place over eleven weeks in early 2006, and featured an extensive cast along with various uncredited cameos. Visual effects were developed by ten artists to expand on or add explosions, gore, and gunfire scenes.
Debuting on 14 February 2007 in the United Kingdom and 20 April in the United States, Hot Fuzz received critical and commercial success. Shortly after the film’s release, two different soundtracks were released in the UK and US.
The film is the second in Wright and Pegg’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and was preceded by 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and followed by 2013’s The World’s End, each of them featuring a different flavour of Cornetto ice cream. It is also the most financially successful film in the trilogy.
© Image credit
Police Constable Nicholas Angel, a high-achieving member of the Metropolitan Police Service, is promoted to Sergeant but it comes with being transferred to the village of Sandford, Gloucestershire, for being too good at his job while making his colleagues look bad by comparison due to his skills. Angel finds the town is generally devoid of any crime, with its local Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) helping to keep the peace as everyone prepares for the “Village of the Year” award contest. Angel finds minor instances of disorderly conduct, during which he confiscates a shed full of unlicensed fire arms including a naval mine, pursues an escaped swan, and arrests a drunk driver who turns out to be his new partner PC Danny Butterman, the son of town chief Inspector, Frank Butterman.
Just as Sgt. Angel begins to despair at Sandford’s apparent tranquility, the town is struck by a series of deaths. Angel begins to suspect a serial killer is afoot and that the murders are linked, although Danny seems more concerned with discussing his love of action and buddy cop films. Furthermore, the rest of the police force refuse to believe the deaths were deliberate and pass them off as mere accidents. Eventually, Angel’s investigations lead him to accuse the local supermarket manager, NWA member Simon Skinner, of the murders, but is rebuffed when Skinner’s alibi is backed up by video footage. Dejected, Angel considers the possibility of more than one killer being involved, but after this idea is shot down by Inspector Butterman, he returns home. As he opens his door, though, Angel is attacked by a cloaked figure, who turns out to be an employee at Skinner’s supermarket. Angel subdues the man, then impersonates him over a walkie-talkie to discover Skinner’s whereabouts.
Arriving at a meeting of the Sandford NWA, Angel confronts the group and tries to arrest them. They confess they are collectively carrying out the murders of any residents who could cause Sandford not to be crowned Village of the Year. Inspector Butterman then reveals himself to be the leader of the group, explaining that he is motivated by the memory of his late wife Irene, who committed suicide after her efforts to win that title were foiled by a group of “gypsies”. Upon hearing this, the Sergeant is forced to flee, but he becomes trapped in a crypt where he discovers the bodies of the NWA’s ill-fated victims. It seems that Angel is about to be caught, when Danny suddenly appears and stabs him, causing the Sergeant to lose consciousness. He awakens in Danny’s car, where the younger Butterman reveals he only faked Angel’s murder to cover his escape. Danny begs his partner to leave Sandford for his own safety.
Initially Angel plans to follow Danny’s wishes, but has a change of heart en route to London when he notices some of Danny’s favourite films for sale at a service station. He proceeds to return to Sandford, arms himself with the previously confiscated guns, and reunites with Danny. After a firefight with NWA townsfolk, the two police officers rally their fellow colleagues and besiege Skinner’s supermarket, eventually forcing Skinner to flee. Angel and Danny give chase, catching up to Skinner in the village’s miniature scale-model town and confronting both him and the elder Butterman, in turn. Sgt. Angel and Danny finally succeed in arresting them, after a fist fight and a swan-induced car crash.
Some time later, Angel’s superiors from London beg him to come back as the city’s crime rate has risen heavily, but Angel declines and chooses to remain in Sandford. As he and the other police officers process paperwork related to their recent activities, Tom Weaver, the last NWA member, bursts into the station and attempts to kill Sgt. Angel. As the officers attempt to disarm him, he stumbles into the confiscated sea mine and triggers it. Angel and the others manage to survive the ensuing explosion which destroys the station. One year later, Angel and Danny are in charge of the Sandford Police as Inspector and Sergeant, respectively.
Sandford Police Service
- Simon Pegg as Sgt Nicholas “Nick” Angel
- Nick Frost as PC Danny Butterman
- Jim Broadbent as Inspector Frank Butterman
- Paddy Considine as DS Andy Wainwright
- Rafe Spall as DC Andy Cartwright
- Kevin Eldon as Sgt Tony Fisher
- Olivia Colman as PC Doris Thatcher
- Karl Johnson as PC Bob Walker
- Bill Bailey as Desk Sgt Turner
Neighbourhood Watch Alliance and Associates
- Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner
- Edward Woodward as Prof. Tom Weaver
- Billie Whitelaw as Joyce Cooper
- Eric Mason as Maj. Bernard Cooper
- Stuart Wilson as Dr. Robin Hatcher
- Paul Freeman as Rev. Philip Shooter
- Rory McCann as Michael “Lurch” Armstrong
- Kenneth Cranham as James Reaper
- Maria Charles as Mrs. Reaper
- Peter Wight as Roy Porter
- Julia Deakin as Mary Porter
- Trevor Nichols as Greg Prosser
- Elizabeth Elvin as Sheree Prosser
- Patricia Franklin as Annette Roper
- Lorraine Hilton as Amanda Paver
- Tim Barlow as Mr. Treacher
- Anne Reid as Leslie Tiller
- Ben McKay as Peter Cocker
- Adam Buxton as Tim Messenger
- David Threlfall as Martin Blower
- Lucy Punch as Eve Draper
- David Bradley as Arthur Webley, the farmer
- Ron Cook as George Merchant
- Stephen Merchant as Peter Ian Staker
- Alice Lowe as Tina
- Edgar Wright (uncredited) as Shelf Stacker
- Martin Freeman as Met Sgt.
- Steve Coogan (uncredited) as Met Insp.
- Bill Nighy as Met Ch. Insp.
- Peter Jackson (uncredited) as a man dressed as Father Christmas
- Cate Blanchett (uncredited) as Janine
- Garth Jennings (uncredited) as a Crack Addict
While writing the script, the film’s director and writer, Edgar Wright, as well as Pegg, intended to include Frost as the partner for Pegg’s character. Frost revealed that he would do the film only if he could name his character, and he chose “Danny Butterman”.
Wright wanted to write and direct a cop film because “there isn’t really any tradition of cop films in the UK… We felt that every other country in the world had its own tradition of great cop action films and we had none.” Wright and Pegg spent eighteen months writing the script. The first draft took eight months to develop, and after watching 138 cop-related films for dialogue and plot ideas and conducting over fifty interviews with police officers for research, the script was completed after another nine months. The title was based on the various two-word titles of action films in the 1980s and 1990s. In one interview Wright declared that he “wanted to make a title that really had very little meaning…like Lethal Weapon and Point Break and Executive Decision.” In the same interview, Pegg joked that many action films’ titles “seem to be generated from two hats filled with adjectives and nouns and you just, ‘Okay, that’ll do.'”
Preparation and filming
During the latter half of 2005, Working Title approached several towns in South West England looking for an appropriate filming location. Pegg commented, “We’re both [Pegg and Wright] from the West Country so it just seemed like it was the perfect and logical thing to drag those kind of ideas and those genres and those clichés back to our beginnings to where we grew up, so you could see high-octane balls-to-the-wall action in Frome”. Stow-on-the-Wold was considered amongst others, but after being turned away, the company settled upon Wells in Somerset, Wright’s hometown, of which he has said “I love it but I also want to trash it”. Wells Cathedral was digitally painted out of every shot of the cathedral city, as Wright wanted the Church of St. Cuthbert to be the centre building for the fictional town of Sandford; however, the Bishop’s Palace is identifiable in some shots (and was itself used as the setting for some scenes). While shooting scenes in their uniforms, Pegg and Frost were often mistaken for genuine police officers and asked for directions by passers-by. Filming also took place at the Hendon Police College, including the driving school skid pan and athletic track. Filming commenced on 19 March 2006 and lasted for eleven weeks. After editing, Wright ended up cutting half an hour of footage from the film.
© Image credit
Wright has said that Hot Fuzz takes elements from his final amateur film, Dead Right, which he described as both ” Lethal Weapon set in Somerset” and “a Dirty Harry film in Somerset”. He uses some of the same locations in both films, including the Somerfield supermarket, where he used to work as a shelf-stacker. In the scene in the Somerfield store, when Angel is confronting a chav for shoplifting, a DVD copy of Shaun of the Dead can be seen for a few frames. The title is Zombies’ Party, the Spanish and Portuguese title for the film.
Further homages to Shaun of the Dead are also present in the film. In one scene, Nicholas wants to chase a shoplifter by jumping over garden fences; however, Danny is reluctant. Nicholas says, “What’s the matter, Danny? You never taken a shortcut before?” He smiles arrogantly before jumping over three in a row (according to the DVD commentary, Pegg vaulted over three fences, and a stunt man did a back flip over the fourth). When Danny attempts it, he trips and falls through the fence. This is almost identical to a scene in Shaun of the Dead, including the fall-through-fence gag (in Shaun of the Dead, however, it happens to Pegg’s character rather than Frost’s, and he falls over the fence rather than through it). The DVD commentary says that Frost purposely looked back at the camera after crashing through the fence, to show that he had done the stunt rather than someone else.
Frost’s characters (Danny in Hot Fuzz, Ed in Shaun of the Dead) have a liking for Cornettos. Pegg and Wright have referred to Hot Fuzz as being the second film in “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” with Shaun of the Dead as the first and The World’s End as the third.
Various scenes in Hot Fuzz feature a variety of action film DVDs such as Supercop and scenes from Point Break and Bad Boys II. Wright revealed that he had to get permission from every actor in each video clip, including stunt men, to use the clips and for the use of the DVD covers had to pay for the rights from the respective studios. The film parodies clichés used in other action movies. On the topic of perceived gun fetishes in these movies, Pegg has said, “Men can’t do that thing, which is the greatest achievement of humankind, which is to make another human, so we make metal versions of our own penises and fire more bits of metal out of the end into people’s heads… It’s our turn to grab the gun by the hilt and fire it into your face.” Despite this, Pegg maintains that the film is not a spoof, in that “They lack the sneer that a lot of parodies have that look down on their source material. Because we’re looking up to it.” The film also includes various references to The Wicker Man, in which Edward Woodward had played a policeman tough on law and order.
© Image credit
To illustrate the destruction of the mansion as a result of the gas explosion, gas mortars were placed in front of the building to create large-scale fireballs. The wave of fire engulfs the camera, and to achieve that effect, gas mortars were used again but were fired upwards into a black ceiling piece that sloped up towards the camera. When the sequence was shot at a high speed, the flames appeared to surge across the ground. For one of the final scenes of the film, the Sandford police station is destroyed by an explosion. Part of the explosion was created by using a set model that showed its windows being blown out, while the building remained intact. The actual destruction of the building was depicted by exploding a miniature model of the station.
Similar to the work in Shaun of the Dead, blood and gore was prevalent throughout the film. Visual effects supervisor Richard Briscoe revealed the rationale for using the large amounts of blood: “In many ways, the more extreme you make it, the more people know it is stylised and enjoy the humour inherent in how ridiculous it is. It’s rather like the (eventually) limbless Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.” The most time-consuming gore sequence involved a character’s head being crushed by a section of a church. A dummy was used against a green screen and the head was detonated at the point when the object was about to impact the body. Throughout the film, over seventy gunfight shots were digitally augmented; Briscoe’s rationale for adding the additional effects was that “The town square shootout, for example, is full of extra little hits scattered throughout, so that it feels like our hero characters really do have it all going off, all around them. It was a great demonstration of [how] seemingly very trivial enhancements can make a difference when combined across a sequence.”
The first two teaser trailers were released on 16 October 2006. Wright, Pegg, and Frost maintained several video blogs, which were released at various times throughout the production of the film. Wright and Frost held a panel at the 2006 Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California to promote Hot Fuzz, which included preliminary footage and a question and answer session. The two returned to the convention again in 2007 to promote the US DVD release. Advance screenings of the film took place on 14 February 2007 in the UK and the world premiere was on 16 February 2007. The premiere included escorts from motorcycle police officers and the use of blue carpet instead of the traditional red carpet.
© Image credit
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating with an average rating of 7.7/10 based on 198 reviews. The website’s consensus reads, “The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody.” It also has a Metacritic score of 81/100. Olly Richards of Empire praised the chemistry between Pegg and Frost, saying: “After almost a decade together, they’re clearly so comfortable in each other’s presence that they feel no need to fight for the punchline, making them terrific company for two hours”. Johnny Vaughan of The Sun already called it the “most arresting Brit-com of 2007”. Phillip French of The Observer, who did not care for Shaun of the Dead, warmed to the comedy team in this film. The film also received positive reviews stateside. Derek Elley of Variety praised Broadbent and Dalton as “especially good as Angel’s hail-fellow-well-met superior and oily No. 1 suspect”. As an homage to the genre, the film was well received by screenwriter Shane Black. On Spill.com, it got their 2nd-highest rating of ‘Full Price!!’.
The Daily Mirror gave Hot Fuzz only 2/5, stating that “many of the jokes miss their target” as the film becomes more action-based. Daily Mail also shared The Mirror’s view, saying, “It’s the lack of any serious intent that means too much of it is desperately unamusing, and unamusingly desperate”. Anthony Quinn of The Independent said, “The same impish spirit [as in Spaced] is uncorked here, but it has been fatally indulged”.
The film generated £7.1 million in its first weekend of release in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2007. In the 20 April US opening weekend, the film grossed $5.8 million from only 825 cinemas, making it the highest per-cinema average of any film in the top ten that week. Its opening weekend take beat the $3.3 million opening weekend gross of Pegg and Wright’s previous film, Shaun of the Dead. In its second weekend of release, Rogue Pictures expanded the film’s cinema count from 825 to 1,272 and it grossed $4.9 million, representing a 17% dip in the gross. Altogether, Hot Fuzz grossed $80,573,774 worldwide. In nine weeks, the film earned nearly twice what Shaun of the Dead made in the US, and more than three times its gross in other countries.
The DVD was released on 11 June 2007 in the UK. Over one million DVDs were sold in the UK in the first four weeks of its release. The two-disc set contains the feature film with commentaries, outtakes, storyboards, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, video blogs, featurettes, galleries, and some hidden easter eggs. The DVD also features Wright’s last amateur film, Dead Right, which he described as ” Hot Fuzz without the budget”. Due to the above release date, the film arrived on region 2 DVD earlier than the theatrical release date in Germany on 14 June 2007. In the commentary with director Wright and fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, they discuss nearly 200 films.
The US DVD and HD DVD release was on 31 July 2007. It opened at #2 at the American DVD sales chart, selling 853,000 units for over $14m in revenue. As per the latest figures,1,923,000 units have been sold, acquiring revenue of $33.3 million. The HD DVD edition has more special features than the standard DVD release. A three-disc collector’s edition was released on 27 November 2007 and a Blu-ray edition on 22 September 2009.
The soundtrack album, Hot Fuzz: Music from the Motion Picture, was released on 19 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and on 17 April 2007 in the United States and Canada. The UK release contains 22 tracks, and the North American release has 14. The film’s score is by British composer David Arnold, who scored the James Bond film series from 1997 to 2008. The soundtrack album’s “Hot Fuzz Suite” is a compilation of excerpts from Arnold’s score. According to the DVD commentary, the scenes where Nicholas Angel is at a convenience store, while leaving Sandford, and his return to the police station while arming for the final shootout (found in the track “Avenging Angel”), were scored by Robert Rodríguez, who did not see the rest of the film while writing the music.
Other music from the film is a mix of 1960s and 1970s British rock (The Kinks, T.Rex, The Move, The Sweet, The Troggs, Arthur Brown, Cloud 69, Cozy Powell, Dire Straits), new wave (Adam Ant, XTC) and a Glaswegian indie band (The Fratellis). The soundtrack album features dialogue extracts by Pegg, Frost, and other cast members, mostly embedded in the music tracks. The song selection also includes some police-themed titles, including Supergrass’ “Caught by the Fuzz” as well as “Here Come the Fuzz”, which was specially composed for the film by Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion.