Having hit it big in Asia in the late 70s, after Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, Jackie Chan soon made an attempt to hit the American market, with Battle Creek Brawl, the Cannonball Run films and The Protector. These weren’t great showcases for his talents though and all failed to gain him much attention, so he started putting his efforts back into Hong Kong productions, making many of his most beloved films during the 80s before finally cracking the West in the mid-90s and arguably going downhill after that. One of his most popular releases on home turf in the 80s and a favourite of many Jackie Chan fans is Police Story. It spawned several sequels, including a 2004 reboot (New Police Story) which itself was followed by a sequel. Eureka, in their new wave of martial arts classic re-releases (of which I’m hugely pleased to see), are bringing out the first and best two titles of the series in a handsome Blu-Ray box set, obviously titled Jackie Chan’s Police Story and Police Story 2. I gleefully sat down to revisit the two films in these pristine new HD restorations.

Police Story

Director: Jackie Chan, Chi-Hwa Chen
Screenplay: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang, Paul B. Clay
Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Kwok-Hung Lam, Bill Tung, Keung-Kuen Lai, John Cheung, Yuen Chor, Charlie Cho
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 100/105/84 min
Year: 1985
BBFC Certificate: 15

Police Story sees Chan play Chan Ka Kui, a newly qualified but confident and passionate cop who captures drug lord Mr. Chu Tao (Yuen Chor) practically singlehandedly. This brings him fame and makes him the face of the Hong Kong police, but it also lands him in trouble with both sides of the law. His superiors, Inspector Bill Wong (Bill Tung) and Supt. Raymond Li (Kwok-Hung Lam), are annoyed by his violent and destructive methods and are worried his image as a lone wolf undermine the teamwork involved in police operations. They assign Chan the task of looking after a key witness in the Chu case, Selina Fong (Brigitte Lin), and so he has to put up with a barrage of attacks by Chu’s goons who are wanting to get at her as well as get revenge for their boss’ arrest. Selina has been forced into acting as a witness though, so she doesn’t make life easy for Chan either. In amongst all this, Chan struggles to maintain his relationship with his long suffering girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung).

Like most Hong Kong action films of its era, the plot is rather flimsy and even Chan himself admits he wrote this and most of his other films around ideas he had for the set pieces. There’s just enough story here though to hold everything together, keep you involved and give you a good guy to root for and a villain to hate.

We don’t watch Jackie Chan films for their elaborate plots though. We watch them for the action, stunts and physical comedy and Chan delivers these in spades. There may not be wall to wall fight scenes like you get in Drunken Master and other early martial arts movies, but there’s always something to enjoy just around the corner, be it a crazy stunt, elaborate fight scene or hilarious bit of physical comedy. Most of these are of the highest standard too. Police Story was particularly famous for its stunts and saw this side of Chan’s career really come to its own after largely being concerned with just fights and physical comedy. The shanty town drive-through and bus sequence at the start, as well as the shopping centre chandelier leap at the end are still thrilling to watch and incredibly dangerous, particularly when you consider the less-safety conscious practises in the Hong Kong film industry at the time.

Although there aren’t a lot of fights in the film, the small handful that are here are absolutely amazing. The car park scene early on is incredibly fast and full of gravity-defying leaps and swings around the cars and other props. It’s the final showdown in the shopping centre/mall that drops jaws though. It’s one of Chan’s most hard-hitting and destructive fight scenes, with an incredible amount of glass being smashed by characters being thrown, punched and kicked around. A motorbike even ploughs one bad guy through several panes of glass at one point. The choreography and stunt-work involved is mind-blowing, even by Chan’s standards, and it remains one of the best action finales I’ve seen.

The comedy is very effective too. Yes there are some low brow gags here and there and the treatment of women in some ‘comic’ situations can be a bit dated, but when Chan is doing his physical slapstick, it works a charm. A comic set piece with Chan juggling several phones in the police station is a particular standout. I’ve always loved the car parking gag too.

In general, Chan has a huge amount of charisma that elevates any material he works with and it’s always a joy to see him perform. He has such a cheeky charm about him that’s perfectly mined in this film. Police Story gets a little more serious as it moves on too and Chan manages to hold his own as a serious actor when required, although he can never resist squeezing a little bit of humour into even the darker segments.

Funny, snappy and filled with amazing stunts and fights, it’s breathtaking stuff. It gets better every time I see it and it’s clear to see why it’s many people’s favourite Jackie Chan film. It’s very close to being mine.

Police Story 2

Director: Jackie Chan
Screenplay: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Kwok-Hung Lam, Yuen Chor, Chi-Wing Lau
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 121/101/90 min
Year: 1988
BBFC Certificate: 15

Police Story 2 begins pretty much straight after the end of the first film. Chan is getting told off by Bill and Raymond after the destructive affair in the shopping centre. They think his wild methods need taming, so he’s assigned to traffic duty. Chan isn’t happy about this, but May is enjoying the easier life. Unfortunately though, Mr Chu is released from prison on sentimental grounds (he’s dying) and wants to make life hell for Chan during his last days. Chu’s associate John Ko (Charlie Cho) makes frequent visits to the unhappy Chan and May, threatening their lives and occasionally setting his goons on them. May gets fed up with this and the fact that Chan keeps running off to beat up the bad guys instead of making sure she’s OK, so the couple separate and Chan quits his job too.

If all this wasn’t bad enough for our hero, he gets involved in the case of a mad bomber who blows up a shopping mall and blackmails a big corporation, claiming they’ll blow up more buildings if they don’t get paid millions of pounds. Of course this draws Chan back to the police force and he tries to catch the bomber, fend off Chu’s goons and save his relationship all at the same time!

Police Story 2 ups the drama and thriller aspects after the more episodic and comic first instalment. Yes there are still a few unnecessary scenes thrown in for entertainment value (including some extended toilet humour) and the Chu and bomber stories don’t particularly gel, but overall this is notably darker and more cohesive than its predecessor.

That’s not to say it’s a better film or less fun though. Although there is more to the story, it’s fairly stereotypical of a lot of crime thrillers and cop movies in its main beats. Also, with more emphasis on drama it’s not quite as fast paced. In fact it’s just over 15 minutes before we get a proper action sequence (unless you count the opening montage taken of clips from the first film).

When the action comes it’s as brilliant as ever though. The first fight scene, which takes place in a restaurant, is like a shortened version of the shopping centre finale from the first film, with plenty of glass smashing and other such destruction. Great use is made of props and set here too, as well as in a wonderful fight in a playground later on. The fireworks factory finale is superb too and ends with a jaw-dropping explosion.

It’s also still funny, although it doesn’t have any comic set pieces quite as strong as some of those in Police Story. I enjoyed the interplay between Chan and Bill though. The latter provided a lot of the dialogue driven humour in the first film and keeps up the momentum here.

Maggie Cheung is given more to do this time around and she’s less abused by Chan in this film. She’s given a harder time by the bad guys though and got badly injured in real life after she was involved in a stunt which went wrong. Cheung and Chan get some fairly emotional scenes together and both do a decent job even if the film is streets away from the work Cheung would do later in her career for Wong Kar-Wai and Olivier Assayas.

Chan seems to have improved a bit as a director too. He showed in the first film and in other early offerings that he could direct action and comedy, with a brilliant eye for timing and editing. However, here he uses some more interesting camerawork, with some nice movement. In one scene a steadicam is used to follow Chan and May arguing through the police station, ending in the changing rooms where dozens of his colleagues are showering or using the facilities. It’s a beautifully constructed shot which ends on a gag, perfectly encapsulating Chan’s talents. He’s a fine filmmaker but his main goal is to entertain the audience rather than make something to be mulled over by pretentious critics.

Which is probably a signal for me to stop waffling on. In summation then, Police Story 2 is more solid than the first film as a cop thriller, but a bit slower due do this and a lower quota of jokes. When the action does kick into gear though, it’s amazing and remains a great example of Chan at the top of his game.

Jackie Chan’s Police Story and Police Story 2 is out on 20th August on Blu-Ray in the UK, released by Eureka as part of their Eureka Classics series. The transfer looks fantastic – clean, detailed and sharp yet natural looking. You get a variety of audio options, which cover all the bases (on top of the various edits of the films). I listened to the 5.1 Cantonese tracks and they came through nicely.

You get plenty of special features too:


DISC 1

- ‘Police Story’ (100 mins) 1080p presentation sourced from the incredible new 4K restoration * This is the version I watched for this review

– Four unique Audio options: Original Cantonese Mono audio track; Restored Cantonese 5.1; Restored English 5.1 dub track AND an additional audio track featuring an alternate English dub sourced from a rare Dutch VHS release of Police Story that has never been officially released on any other version of the film

- Newly translated English subtitles

– ‘Police Story: The Japanese Cut’ (105 mins – HD) Originally released exclusively to Japanese home video, this extended cut of the film was transferred to HD from a film print in 2012 and makes its UK debut here with it s original Cantonese audio and English subtitles for the first time ever

- ‘Police Story: The Police Force Cut’ (84 mins – SD) A unique version of the film edited exclusively for the American home video market, featuring a unique dub track and electronic score

- Police Story Alternate and Deleted Scenes, including alternate opening and ending sequences

- Archival Interview with Jackie Chan (20 mins)

- “Jackie Chan Stunts” Promotional trailer

- Trailers

- Collectors Booklet feat new writing on the film & rare archival material

DISC 2

- ‘Police Story 2’ (121 mins) 1080p presentation of the extended version of the film, sourced from the incredible new 4K restoration * This is the version I watched for this review

– Original Cantonese Mono audio, along with restored Cantonese and English 5.1 options

- Newly translated English subtitles

- ‘Police Story 2: The Original Hong Kong Version’ (101 mins – SD) The original cut of Police Story 2, presented with it’s original Cantonese mono audio track and optional English subtitles

– Optional Audio Commentary with Miles Wood and Jude Poyer (Hong Kong Version of the film)

- ‘Police Story 2: Original UK Version’ (90 mins – SD) An alternate cut of the film created for the film s UK VHS release, featuring a unique English dub track

- “Jackie Chan” – Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show (40 mins)

- Archival Interview with Benny Lai (15 mins)

– Outtakes

– Trailers

- Collectors Booklet feat new writing on the film & rare archival material

Most of the features have previously been available on the old Hong Kong Legends DVDs, but their repetition is better than having no features at all. Bey Logan’s commentary from Police Story is missing, but we’ve got ‘Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show’ to make up for it, which provides a great overview of Chan’s work and qualities. Previous editions haven’t provided the various versions of the films either and the transfers here are superb, so it’s definitely still worth the upgrade.

Police Story and Police Story 2
4.5Overall:
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

2 Responses

  1. Sebastian

    Why didn’t you listen to the original Mono mixes? Eureka went out of their way to include them when most studios only include a bad 5.1 remix which ruins the original sound design. I feel the original mix should always be included, as it’s wrong to not include it and force viewers to deal with a mix that may not be to their liking.

    Reply
  2. David Brook

    It depends on the remix though. These were new restorations Eureka also went out of their way to include. It’s all about personal preference. Some people are even nostalgic about the English dubs and prefer them. Also, I feel reviewing new mixes is more important than just saying “I listened to the old classic audio track and it sounded as it should”. Saying that, if a new mix is bad I’ll always revert to the classic one. I’d make note of that in my review though.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To help us avoid spam comments, please answer this simple question to prove you are human: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.