The buddy film is a subgenre of adventure and comedy film in which two people are put together and are on an adventure, a quest, or a road trip. The two often contrast in personality, which creates a dynamic onscreen different from a pairing of two people of the opposite gender. The contrast is sometimes accentuated by an ethnic difference between the two. The buddy film is commonplace in American cinema; unlike some other film genres, it endured through the 20th century with different pairings and different themes.
A buddy film portrays the pairing of two people, often the same sex, historically men. A friendship between the two people is the key relationship in a buddy film. The two people often come from different backgrounds or have different personalities, and they tend to misunderstand one another. Through the events of the buddy film, they gain a stronger friendship and mutual respect. Buddy films often deal with crises of masculinity, especially related to class, race, and gender. American Masculinities: A Historical Encyclopedia explains, "[Buddy films] offer male movie–going audiences an opportunity to indulge in a form of male bonding and behavior usually discouraged by social constraints."  Ira Konigsberg wrote in The Complete Film Dictionary, "Such films extol the virtues of male comradeship and relegate male–female relationships to a subsidiary position." 
A female buddy film is similar to a buddy film except that the main characters are women, and it is centered on their situation. The cast may be mainly female depending on the plot. There are far fewer female buddy films than there are male buddy films; however, notable examples include 1991's Thelma and Louise , which had a popular impact similar to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and paved the way for onscreen female friendships such as those in Waiting to Exhale, Walking and Talking, and Fried Green Tomatoes. 
Buddy films are often hybridized with other film genres, such as road movies, Westerns, comedies, and action films featuring cops. The "threats to [the] masculinity" of the male–male relationship depend on the genre: women in comedies, the law in films about outlaw buddies, and criminals in action films about cop buddies. 
The buddy film is more common to cinema in the United States than cinema in other Western countries, which tend to focus on male–female romantic relationships or an individual male hero.  Film historian David Thomson observes that buddy films are rare among British and French films, "You just wouldn't see three Englishmen behave the way American men do, who are truly happiest when they are together with other men."  Portrayal of male bonding in the United States traces back to 19th-century author Mark Twain's characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as a "good boy-bad boy combo", as well as Huck Finn and the slave Jim in Twain's 1884 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . Vaudeville acts in early 20th century United States often featured male pairs.  Another example could be 1881's The Prince and the Pauper with Prince Edward and Miles Hendon.
From the 1930s to the 1960s in the United States, male comedy duos often appeared in buddy films. Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello were popular in the 1930s and 1940s.  Laurel and Hardy starred in films like Sons of the Desert (1933), and Abbott and Costello starred in films like Buck Privates (1941). Another comedy duo was Wheeler & Woolsey, who starred in Half Shot at Sunrise (1930). Bing Crosby and Bob Hope starred together in the 1940 Paramount Pictures film Road to Singapore ,  which led to other 1940s buddy films that the Los Angeles Times described as "escapist wartime fantasies".  Hope and Crosby starred together in a series of films that lasted to the 1960s.  Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a popular duo in the 1950s, and Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were famous in the 1960s, starring in the hit 1968 film The Odd Couple . 
A major departure from the more comic buddy films of the era was Akira Kurosawa's 1949 Japanese film Stray Dog , starring Toshirō Mifune and Takashi Shimura. It was a more serious police procedural film noir that served as a precursor to the buddy cop film genre. 
Throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, the feminist movement and "a widespread questioning" of social institutions influenced buddy films. The films explored male friendships more dramatically and encouraged individualism—particularly to be free from women and society.  Critics like Molly Haskell and Robin Wood saw the decades' films as "a backlash from the feminist movement."  Philippa Gates wrote, "To punish women for their desire for equality, the buddy film pushes them out of the center of the narrative... By making both protagonists men, the central issue of the film becomes the growth and development of their friendship. Women as potential love interests are thus eliminated from the narrative space."  The buddy films of these decades were also hybridized with road movies.  The decades' buddy films included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Easy Rider (1969), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), and Dog Day Afternoon (1975).  The Los Angeles Times said films like Scarecrow (1973) and All the President's Men (1976) reflected the "paranoia and alienation" felt in the era.  Beyond Hollywood, a notable buddy road movie of that era was the Bollywood "Curry Western" film Sholay (1975),  which was the highest-grossing Indian film of all time.  
Biracial buddy films emerged in the 1970s and 1980s; Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder initiated the movement with Silver Streak (1976) and Stir Crazy (1980). Eddie Murphy was a key actor in biracial buddy films, starring in 48 Hours (1982) with Nick Nolte and in Trading Places (1983) with Dan Aykroyd.  Throughout the 1980s, the individual roles in biracial buddy films are reversed. The "racial other... is too civilized" while the white man "is equipped for survival in... the urban landscape". 
The 1980s was a popular decade for action films,  and the genre that "blended masculinity, heroism, and patriotism into an idealized image" was hybridized with buddy films. Following the Civil Rights Movement, black advancement was also reflected in more common biracial pairings.  In this decade, the buddy cop film took the place of the buddy road movie.  Action films with biracial pairings include the 1982 film 48 Hours starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte and the 1987 film Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Another combination of the action film and the buddy film in the 1980s and another biracial reversal was the 1988 film Die Hard in which Bruce Willis's heroic character John McClane is supported by the black cop Al (played by Reginald VelJohnson). 
In the early 1990s, the masculine figure in films became more sensitive, and some buddy films "contemplated a masculinity that required sensitive relations between men". Such films included The Fisher King (1991) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The decade also saw new approaches to the genre. The 1991 film Thelma & Louise featured a female pairing of Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, and the 1993 film The Pelican Brief featured a male–female platonic pairing of Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. The 1998 film Rush Hour featured a nonwhite male pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker,  which the Los Angeles Times said symbolized color blindness in American cinema. 
Biracial buddy films continued in the 1990s and 2000s and were combined with different genres, such as White Men Can't Jump (1992), Bulletproof (1996), Gridlock'd (1997), National Security (2003) and The Bucket List (2007).   
Also in the 1990s and 2000s, John Woo's Hollywood films imported the wuxia "themes of loyalty and trust" from his previous Hong Kong-produced films to create different takes on male bonding. Kin–Yan Szeto writes in The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, "[In] his third Hollywood film, Face/Off ... Woo manages to deploy and politicize themes of homosociality with the possibility of contesting hegemonic masculinity that consolidates kinship and family." Woo's 2001 World War II film Windtalkers depicted two buddy pairs, with each pair indicating inequality through ethnicity (white American soldiers protecting Navajo code talkers but ready to kill the talkers to protect the code). Szeto explains, "Woo uses the twin buddy pairs to explore the shifting meanings and multiple possibilities in interracial bonding, rather than simply recuperating and empowering dominant positions for white heterosexual men." 
Lethal Weapon was adapted into a television series which ran from 2016 to 2019.  The 2021 series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has many of the features of the buddy film genre, and is influenced by films like 48 Hrs., The Defiant Ones, Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour.  
John Woo Yu-Sen SBS is a Hong Kong filmmaker, known as a highly-influential figure in the action film genre. He is a pioneer of heroic bloodshed films and the gun fu genre in Hong Kong action cinema, before working in Hollywood films. He is known for his highly chaotic "bullet ballet" action sequences, stylized imagery, Mexican standoffs, frequent use of slow motion and allusions to wuxia, film noir and Western cinema.
Action film is a film genre in which the protagonist is thrust into a series of events that typically involve violence and physical feats. The genre tends to feature a mostly resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a dangerous villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero.
The decade of the 1980s in Western cinema saw the return of studio-driven pictures, coming from the filmmaker-driven New Hollywood era of the 1970s. The period was when "high concept" films gained popularity, where films were expected to be easily marketable and understandable. Therefore, they had short cinematic plots that could be summarized in one or two sentences. The modern Hollywood blockbuster is the most popular film format from the 1980s. Producer Don Simpson is usually credited with the creation of the high-concept picture of the modern Hollywood blockbuster.
Lethal Weapon is a 1987 American buddy cop action comedy film directed and co-produced by Richard Donner, written by Shane Black, and co-produced by Joel Silver. It stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover alongside Gary Busey, Tom Atkins, Darlene Love, and Mitchell Ryan. In Lethal Weapon, a pair of mismatched LAPD detectives – Martin Riggs (Gibson), a former Green Beret who has become suicidal following the death of his wife, and veteran officer and family man Roger Murtaugh (Glover) – work together as partners.
The cinema of the United States, consisting mainly of major film studios along with some independent film, has had a large effect on the global film industry since the early 20th century. The dominant style of American cinema is classical Hollywood cinema, which developed from 1913 to 1969 and is still typical of most films made there to this day. While Frenchmen Auguste and Louis Lumière are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, American cinema soon came to be a dominant force in the emerging industry. As of 2017, it produced the third-largest number of films of any national cinema, after India and China, with more than 600 English-language films released on average every year. While the national cinemas of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also produce films in the same language, they are not part of the Hollywood system. Because of this, Hollywood has also been considered a transnational cinema, and has produced multiple language versions of some titles, often in Spanish or French. Contemporary Hollywood often outsources production to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The cinema of Hong Kong is one of the three major threads in the history of Chinese language cinema, alongside the cinema of China and the cinema of Taiwan. As a former British colony, Hong Kong had a greater degree of political and economic freedom than mainland China and Taiwan, and developed into a filmmaking hub for the Chinese-speaking world.
An exploitation film is a film that tries to succeed financially by exploiting current trends, niche genres, or lurid content. Exploitation films are generally low-quality "B movies", though some set trends, attract critical attention, become historically important, and even gain a cult following.
Buddy cop is a film and television genre with plots involving two people of very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together to solve a crime and/or defeat criminals, sometimes learning from each other in the process. The two are normally either police officers (cops) or secret agents, but some films or TV series that are not about two officers may still be referred to as buddy cop films/TV series. It is a subgenre of buddy films. They can be either comedies or action-thrillers.
A road movie is a film genre in which the main characters leave home on a road trip, typically altering the perspective from their everyday lives. Road movies often depict travel in the hinterlands, with the films exploring the theme of alienation and examining the tensions and issues of the cultural identity of a nation or historical period; this is all often enmeshed in a mood of actual or potential menace, lawlessness, and violence, a "distinctly existential air" and is populated by restless, "frustrated, often desperate characters". The setting includes not just the close confines of the car as it moves on highways and roads, but also booths in diners and rooms in roadside motels, all of which helps to create intimacy and tension between the characters. Road movies tend to focus on the theme of masculinity, some type of rebellion, car culture, and self-discovery. The core theme of road movies is "rebellion against conservative social norms".
The heist film or caper film is a subgenre of crime film focused on the planning, execution, and aftermath of a significant robbery.
Hong Kong action cinema is the principal source of the Hong Kong film industry's global fame. Action films from Hong Kong have roots in Chinese and Hong Kong cultures including Chinese opera, storytelling and aesthetic traditions, which Hong Kong filmmakers combined with elements from Hollywood and Japanese cinema along with new action choreography and filmmaking techniques, to create a culturally distinctive form that went on to have wide transcultural appeal. In turn, Hollywood action films have been heavily influenced by Hong Kong genre conventions, from the 1970s onwards.
Ed Guerrero is an American film historian and associate professor of cinema studies and Africana studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. His writings explore black cinema, culture, and critical discourse. He has written extensively on black cinema, its movies, politics and culture for anthologies and journals such as Sight & Sound, FilmQuartely, Cineaste, Journal of Popular Film & Television, and Discourse. Guerrero has served on editorial and professional boards including The Library of Congress' National Film Preservation Board.
Jackie Chan began his film career as an extra child actor in the 1962 film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar. Ten years later, he was a stuntman opposite Bruce Lee in 1972's Fist of Fury and 1973's Enter the Dragon. He then had starring roles in several kung fu films, such as 1973's Little Tiger of Canton and 1976's New Fist of Fury. His first major breakthrough was the 1978 kung fu action comedy film Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, which was shot while he was loaned to Seasonal Film Corporation under a two-picture deal. He then enjoyed huge success with similar kung fu action comedy films such as 1978's Drunken Master and 1980's The Young Master. Jackie Chan began experimenting with elaborate stunt action sequences in The Young Master and especially Dragon Lord (1982).
The action comedy is a genre that combines aspects of action and comedy.
A bromance is a very close and non-sexual relationship between two or more men. It is an exceptionally tight, affectional, homosocial male bonding relationship exceeding that of usual friendship, and is distinguished from normal friendship by a particularly high level of emotional intimacy. The emergence of the concept since the beginning of the 21st century has been seen as reflecting a change in societal perception and interest in the theme, with an increasing openness of Western society in the 21st century to reconsider gender, sexuality, and exclusivity constraints.
A female buddy film is a type of buddy film. In these films, women are the main characters and their friendships and relationships with each other drive the story. The plots of female buddy films can share the same concept of male buddy films—opposite personalities go on an adventure or journey of sorts—or they can concern an ensemble group of women. Female buddy films gained popularity in the 1960s from the emergence of the woman's film and the male buddy film genres.
Lethal Weapon is an American buddy cop action-comedy media franchise created by Shane Black. It focuses on two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. The franchise consists of a series of four films released between 1987 and 1998 and a television series which aired from 2016 to 2019. The four films were directed by Richard Donner and also share many of the same core cast members, while the television series is a reboot with different actors. Although the first film was not explicitly a comedy, the later films and the television series gradually became comedic in nature.
A bromantic comedy is a comedy film genre that takes the formula of the typical "romantic comedy" but focuses on close male friendships.
A gangster film or gangster movie is a film belonging to a genre that focuses on gangs and organized crime. It is a subgenre of crime film, that may involve large criminal organizations, or small gangs formed to perform a certain illegal act. The genre is differentiated from Westerns and the gangs of that genre.
African American cinema is loosely classified as films made by, for, or about Black Americans. They are an example of Black film. Historically, African American films have been made with African-American casts and marketed to African-American audiences. The production team and director were sometimes also African American. More recently, Black films featuring multicultural casts aimed at multicultural audiences have also included American Blackness as an essential aspect of the storyline.
In addition to being a masterful precursor to the buddy cop movies and police procedurals popular today, Stray Dog is also a complex genre film that examines the plight of soldiers returning home to post-war Japan.