Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Movie Review: Police Story

And so my long-running Jackie Chan Film Festival now reaches the second classic series from Chan's filmography, the Police Story series. Depending on how they are counted (films like these are frequently labeled as being sequels of each other, even if that wasn't the original intent), there are four, five or even six films total, each featuring Jackie as the only cop who can do the job - even if the job happens to be more like spying in foreign countries than being a Hong Kong police officer.

Like its predecessor, Project A, this one is as much about the stunt work as it is about the fighting. Oh, and there's some plot. Here, Jackie's cop single-handedly arrests a drug lord after a police operation goes awry (they planned to ambush him in the middle of a crowded squatters camp - brilliant!). This one's set up mainly for the stunts, as Jackie and team destroy the hillside camp by driving cars through it, followed by Jackie dangling from the side of a double-decker bus. All pretty good stuff here.

Sadly, we then enter the romantic comedy portion of the film. Here, Jackie is tasked with protecting a witness, the drug lord's attractive female secretary. This leads to an extended and painful sequence with Jackie trying to put the moves on the witness while also keeping his girlfriend around, with both women finding out and turning the tables on him. This results in Jackie losing the witness and thus the case against the drug lord. It's all the same kind of non-action "comedy" scenes that Jackie kept trying to get right, but which just don't seem to work out that well.

Fortunately, the ending of the film makes up for the slow middle. Jackie, having been framed for a murder and now on the run, makes a one-man attack on the crime lord's gang, who are trying to retrieve new evidence against them. The place for the attack - a crowded shopping mall, obviously! If you've ever wondered just how much glass there is in a shopping mall....well, you won't after seeing the last fifteen minutes of this movie. People (including Jackie) are dropped, punched, thrown and driven into just about every type of glass surface you can think of. Very impressive work. Oh, and there is some very good fightwork going on as well, with some especially furious legwork, and some fairly brutal beatdowns with bats. It may be the best fifteen minutes of Jackie's career (although the end of Drunken Master II is also in the running there).

I'm going to have to dock this film slightly for its silly center section - it just didn't work for me. But this is still essential viewing for anyone getting into Jackie Chan. Four stars. Next up: Jackie slows things up a bit with a more dramatic role in Sammo Hung's Heart Of Dragon.

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