Blu-ray Review: Police Story / Police Story 2 | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020  

Police Story / Police Story 2

Studio: The Criterion Collection

Jun 03, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

After an unsuccessful attempt to break into Hollywood, a jaded Jackie Chan returned to Hong Kong to co-write, direct, and star in Police Story. Built with a list of stunts and exciting locations as its foundation, the frequently jaw-dropping action-comedy became an international sensation, and the film the iconic movie martial artist to this day considers his best work.

In Police Story, Chan stars as Ka-Kui, a hotshot police officer assigned to a sting operation targeting the notorious Hong Kong crime boss, Chu Tao. When the operation goes awry, Ka-Kui’s able to capture the bad guy through daring heroics – while destroying an entire shanty town in the process. The arrest makes Ka-Kui a public hero, but also a major pain-in-the-ass for his higher-ups. As punishment, Ka-Kui is assigned the unenviable task of protecting the mobster’s spoiled mistress ahead of her courtroom testimony, which places them in constant danger when the vengeful mob boss sends his lackeys out to exact revenge.

For all of its acclaim as one of the greatest action films of all time, we can’t understate how funny Police Story is. The humor is very broad, and even many of the stunts are comical in nature – there’s as much Buster Keaton in Chan’s work here as any other influence. Chan’s co-star, Maggie Cheung, plays Ka-Kui’s loving girlfriend, who finds herself frequently in harm’s way thanks to the baddies chasing her beloved, and supplies a few of the movie’s most humorous stunts. Chan’s character is one of the most humble (and thus likeable) action heroes to appear in any major franchise, and yet he’s still a badass even when he’s acting like a clown.

Even if it was the funniest comedy ever made, though, Police Story’s biggest laughs would be overshadowed by its stunts. Chan directed Police Story with seemingly little regard for his own well-being, judging from the bloody out-takes that appear over the movie’s closing credits and the numerous injuries which are recounted any time the movie’s making is discussed. In Police Story, we see Chan hang from the side of a bus speeding through traffic; drive a car through half the buildings in a hillside shanty-town; run down the steepest incline overlooking Hong Kong; and slide down an electric chandelier in a many-storied shopping mall concourse. And those are just a few of the more famous stunts! Rarely a scene goes by when Chan and his team aren’t being thrown through glass, launched from vehicle windshields, leaping off buildings, or flying over the handlebars of a motorcycle. It’s incredible that Chan walked away from this movie with as few hospitalizations as he did.

Given that the original Police Story is one of those movies you watch and then wonder to yourself, “How the heck did the star survive making this?” it’s no surprise that the sequel seems to tone things down a bit. Make no mistake: Police Story 2 still features more potentially-deadly stunts than most action stars will attempt in their entire careers, but you won’t be asking yourself after every scene whether or not the real Jackie Chan met his demise while filming it and you’ve actually been watching a lookalike in the 30 years’ worth of movies he’s made since.

Police Story 2 picks up where the first movie left off, with Ka-Kui taking a punitive assignment as a traffic cop for destroying so much property over the course of the first Police Story. Unfortunately for him, Chu Tao has been released from prison on medical leave, and he’s sent some of his goonies after Ka-Kui and his girlfriend. Meanwhile, a group of anonymous bombers have begun blowing up shopping centers in an extortion plot on a wealthy Hong Kong corporation. Of course, the reckless Ka-Kui is the man best-suited to bring them down.

Police Story 2 isn’t nearly as funny as its predecessor, nor is the stunt work remotely as stunning. Still, it’s a worthy sequel retaining all of the original’s cast, and the grand finale set in a massive, explosives-filled warehouse more than makes up for the slow stretches that come in its lead-up.

Criterion’s Blu-ray double billing is so packed with extra features that it makes even their most exemplary recent releases look bare-bones in comparison. If mankind discovered that an extinction-level event would befall the planet in a matter of weeks and we could only bury one item in a time capsule to ensure that future generations understood the awesomeness of Jackie Chan, this would be that item. Each disc contains hours’ worth of bonus materials, from an audio interview of director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver) talking to Chan, to many breakdowns of his action and directorial styles and vintage interviews, to a 1964 TV documentary about the Beijing-opera training Chan underwent as a child. Our favorite piece, however, is the 1999 documentary Jackie Chan: My Stunts, in which Chan candidly discuss the magic behind his way of directing action sequences, and serves as a mini-master class in martial arts choreography. This is all on top of new 4K restorations of both films, with multiple audio tracks: a remastered 5.1 of the original soundtrack, and a noticeably weaker-sounding English dub. This collection earns a high, high, high recommendation.



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