Police Story

Police Story ★★★½

This is the ne plus ultra of Jackie Chan movies, and there is no better example of the two elements that define his films: jaw dropping stunt work and the corniest slapstick ever. The tonal shifts between these two elements is occasionally disconcerting. This, after all, is the movie where Chan gets hit with a cake in the face three times in one scene, and later holds a shard of glass to a guy's throat and threatens to slice his head off. For while the action set pieces in Police Story are probably the most impressive Chan (or anyone) ever filmed, the humour scenes are among the most groan inducing. I mean, he's pulling out Buster Keaton-level slapstick. What's interesting is that Chan puts the same amount of energy with the same commitment into all of these things.

Chan's physicality as a performer really stood out to me on this viewing. Watching him during the dialogue scenes, or the interminable scene where he has to comically juggle five different phone handsets, one sees an actor who puts all of his energy into his physical performance. He never just stands in one place delivering lines—instead he's always moving, picking up objects with exaggerated motion, gesticulating wildly, while delivering his lines.

I used to think that this crazy energy came from a comic impulse to sell the jokes—now I see that it's the same energy that makes his action sequences so watchable and unique. To Chan, fighting, acrobatics, and slapstick humour is all the same thing: physical entertainment.

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