*The review refers to the Japanese Cut of the film (105 minutes)
Considered by Jackie Chan himself as his best action film, “Police Story” is a true one-man show, with him writing, directing, acting as stunt coordinator and having the protagonist role, and also the movie that established him as a worldwide superstar. The first part of a series that spawned five sequels and one spinoff film (“Once A Cop” won the Best Film award at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards and was a huge success in East Asia.
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The story revolves around Sergeant Chan Ka-Kui, who is assigned to the Royal Hong Kong Police Force after finishing his Special Ops training. His first mission, alongside former colleague “Big Mouth” and a number of undercover officers, is to arrest crime lord Chu Tao, in a shanty town. The operation is a success, but Chan and his team wreak havoc in their effort to arrest Chu Tao, in a series of events that end up with a reprimand from Superintendent Li, despite his praise from the press. However, when Chan is tasked with protecting Chu Tao’s secretary, Selina Fong, who is a key witness for the trial, all hell breaks loose in a series of events that even involve Chan’s girlfriend, May, and an intricate plan by Chu Tao to defame him. Eventually, Chan has to face everybody on his own.
Let us start with the most obvious. “Police Story” entails two of the most impressive action sequences in Jackie Chan’s vast filmography: the one with the cars in the shanty town in the beginning of the film, and the one in the mall during the finale. The fact that the two of them are completely different in style and conception, with the first one involving cars wreaking havoc and the second one Jackie and his opponents doing the same by fighting with their hands, is a testament to the great work done in the department. Furthermore, the scenes had another significance in Jackie Chan’s career, since after himself and the rest of the stuntmen crew sustained a plethora of injuries, he introduced his own stunt team, that would stay with him throughout his prolific career. This prowess extends to all the action scenes, which are impressively choreographed.
The non-action part of the film is rather simplistic, mostly involving humorous scenes with May and Selina, with Maggie Cheung usually appearing pouting and full of jealousy, while Brigitte Lin “nobly”, respectively, with the difference between the two working quite well in the narrative, which makes a point though, of highlighting the beauty of both.
However, I felt that the scene with the trial, and the one where Ka-Kui lashes out towards his superiors, completely enraged, were quite strong, with Jackie Chan highlighting his acting, in dramatic fashion. Something similar applies to the final scene, which actually function as an intro to the sequel.
If you enjoy action comedies, look no further than “Police Story”, a film that highlights all the elements that made Jackie Chan an international superstar.