Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Movie Review: Crime Story

After the extremely goofy City Hunter, we now rebound in the opposite direction in the Jackie Chan filmography. Crime Story is a rarity for Chan - a relatively serious film. The overall concept certainly isn't new. Jackie once again plays one of the few competent police detectives around, here tasked with first protecting and then rescuing a kidnapped businessman (guess the "protecting" part didn't work out so well). Jackie's character, "Eddie" Chan, is unknowingly battling a crime syndicate that has a highly-placed mole in the police department, working to lead the investigation astray until the ransom can be collected.

What is different is the movie's tone. There is no wacky subplot where Jackie's girlfriend misinterprets some innocent action and goes off on Jackie. There's no comic sidekick character causing trouble for Jackie until the end when he suddenly becomes barely competent. Instead, things are played as a relatively straight procedural, and it ends on a relatively ambiguous note - the businessman is saved, but Jackie isn't in on the final rescue, and most of the bad guys seem to have gotten away with most of the ransom money. However, it is a "normal" Jackie Chan movie at times - near the end, a fight breaks out at the apartment complex with the most flaming natural gas leaks ever seen.

Now, don't get me wrong - this isn't Infernal Affairs or Heat. There isn't a lot of complexity or depth here, just a few hints. But compared to the usual tenor for Jackie's movies, it's a noticeable change. It does, however, come at the expense of the martial arts action. The focus here is more on stunts and gunplay, with Jackie doing a particularly painful-looking series of stunts on board a ship. As usual, there's good stuff there, and it builds up towards the end, but the emphasis isn't on hand-to-hand work.

This is a good solid effort, and there's a few echoes of this later on in Jackie's New Police Story. Three stars. Next up in the Jackie Chan Film Festival, a true classic: Drunken Master 2 (aka The Legend of Drunken Master).

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