Saturday, March 10, 2007

Movie Review: New Police Story

This is the third of the recent Jackie Chan overseas productions I've gotten around to seeing (following The Myth and Rob-B-Hood). In New Police Story (no relation to Chan's classic Police Story movies of the late 80's), Chan plays a cop trying to take down a gang of X-Games wannabees that are staging daring bank robberies - not for the money, but rather to lure cops into deathtraps. When Chan's entire unit is taken down in front of his eyes, he retreats into a drunken haze, until a young inspector declares himself Chan's new partner and forces him back into action despite himself. No bonus points for guessing if Chan is successful or not at getting himself back together and taking down the gang.

I found this movie to be much stronger than either The Myth or Rob-B-Hood. Like the former, it's played mostly straight, and what humor there is comes primarily from Chan's new partner rather than Jackie himself. Jackie's dramatic turn as a drunk here come off OK at best - as usual, I'm more at home seeing him doing his apologetic clown bits, and I'd rather see drunk Jackie becoming Drunken Master instead of Vomiting Master. While he never comes completely out of his shell here, once he does shake off his lethargy, things pick up quite a bit. This movie is more of the guns-and-stunts genre, with only a couple of hand-to-hand fights (I seem to recall more martial arts in the earlier Police Story films). Fortunately, the stunt work here is great and original, at least for Chan - lots of repelling down the sides of buildings, sometimes on foot, sometimes on rollerblades or bikes. There's also an impressive scene set on a runaway double-decker bus that manages to destroy most of an outdoor shopping center for no apparent reason - I always appreciate mindless destruction. And extra kudos for whoever thought to load up the truck that gets dumped into the bay with loose rubber duckies - a nice touch.

(The appearance of the double-decker bus and another stunt where Chan falls off a building through an electric sign, with sparks flying off, make me wonder if they were trying to subliminally invoke the spirit of the original Police Story movie, which features variants of those specific stunts.)

There are a few downsides. While suitably devastating for Chan, the opening scene where his team is taken out is overly ambitious for this group of criminals - it's not quite at Jigsaw levels, but it's hard to see them designing, constructing and then executing flawlessly all of the various traps that are layed out. They basically end up being experts at firearms, explosives, demolition, martial arts, computer programming and, of course, riding bicycles down the sides of buildings. It's a little much to be rolled into one set of punks. The movie also seemed to have about one major plot twist too many, as things seemed to be a bit on the long side for me.

However, these are minor points in the overall picture - I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Four stars.

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