Sunday, June 30, 2019
Police Story (1985)
The Hong Kong police have planned an intensive operation against the respected businessman and suspected drug lord Chu Tu. The operation falls apart when they're discovered, but ultimately succeeds when the crook and his minions are captured, in large part due to the efforts of determined cop Ka-Kui Chan. Praised for his efforts, Ka-Kui becomes a poster-boy for the force, and his superiors decide he's the right choice for a new assignment. Chu Tu's private secretary Salina Fong is believed to be privy to incriminating evidence against her boss, which is needed to see the case through, but she and Ka-Kui hate each-other. She soon changes her tune when her supposedly trustworthy boss sends hitmen to kill her, and Ka-Kui has to protect the woman he can't stand, while also trying to keep his girlfriend away from the various misunderstandings around them...
Police Story is one of Jackie Chan's most lauded movies, for good reason! It's a fantastic showcase of his action, stuntwork, and trademark humour. The story is good, telling one that's basic in structure, but given a bit of depth by the writing and actors. The script was written around the fight scenes and comedy setpieces, and this works surprisingly well!
Police Story is very funny to watch. The antics can get a bit cliched or silly, but they do the job well, and make you laugh. There's nothing that awkward, and all misunderstandings are cleared up relatively quickly. The funniest scene in the movie for me is during the trial when Ka-Kui is presenting his evidence. Due to lawyers being assholes, that's a pretty tough scene to watch, so the tape mishap is some much needed levity too!
The comedy ends up phasing out as the plot gets more dramatic in the final act, with Ka Kui on the run. This is effective, with the humour's absence really selling how serious things have gotten. What bothers me though is that it never comes back!
I found the ending to Police Story to be a bit disappointing. First of all, it's really abrupt, just stopping after the climax! It's also annoying given how serious the movie had gotten for a while. There's no comedic denouement to properly conclude the film, and to give the characters a laugh to send them off. I also feel the ending has Ka-Kui act way too crazy, too. He's succeeded, and caught the bad guy, with proof and everything, but the movie doesn't really let him be happy about it. It's a downer!
Jackie is a great lead, with a goofy charm to his performance, and kick-ass skills! His devotion to the crafts of acting and martial arts are clear from the get-go. Taiwanese actress Brigitte Lin is a lot of fun as Salina, but ends up a bit underused as the movie goes on. After eluding Ka Kui, she vanishes for a long while, only returning for a few short scenes. She's still important to the plot, but she's mostly away from the camera. The rest of the actors all do well, especially Bill Tung and Lam Kwok-Hung as Ka-Kui's Captain and Superintendent, respectively (though one has to wonder how such a baby-faced youngster got such a high rank in the police force!).
The action on display in Police Story is really good, even if I feel it goes a bit overboard in places (...so much glass!). The choreography is great, and everyone involved not only interacts convincingly with their fellow actors, but with the environment too. The stuntwork is insanely good, and you can see the cuts on Jackie's body as testament to how far he was pushing himself with these setpieces. This culminates in the awesome final stunt!
As awesome as it is though, in-universe, and in real life, it's one of those stunts where I think of Jackie Chan as less an amazing showman and more of a fucking idiot! I dislike the stunt particularly because it takes you out of the movie! Obviously you have a sense of disbelief when watching action movies, knowing that certain things are a little outlandish, but that feeling can put that aside easily enough. However, knowing that this stunt immediately sent Jackie to the hospital makes you realize how Police Story would play out in reality. After his electrical slide, Ka-Kui would be totally out cold, and need immediate medical treatment, while Chu Tu would probably get away! But then again, in real life he could've used the stairs. You're such a show-off, Ka-Kui!
One last thing to mention is the hilariously bad dubbing! Proper DVD releases of this have it in the original Cantonese, but cheapie DVD's/videos were often lacking in such niceties, and even the spiffed up releases still have the English language track as an option. I obviously wouldn't suggest watching the whole movie with it on, but it's good for a laugh for a scene or two.
Police Story is a really enjoyable film, and a Jackie Chan classic! I highly recommend it. If you're new to his works, this is a great introduction...