Police Story

Police Story ★★★★

JMN presents… Chan-uary!
Film #13: Police Story (1985)
Language: Cantonese
Runtime: 101 mins

Was 4.0, then 4.5, now 4.0 again.
(I know)

Police Story is essential Jackie Chan. It's important Hong Kong cinema. And it's one of the mandatory action movie texts that every aspiring fanboy needs to have seen at least once in their life. The staggering stunts, the frenzied fights, the polished palette, the image of Jackie in a sweater and sneakers... everything about Police Story is iconic.

The first act rocks. And the third act really rocks. But the middle bit has issues. Those numerous police procedural aspects - which Jackie doubtlessly copied over from Bullitt, Dirty Harry, and even The Protector - eventually start to niggle in their familiarity, often to the point of cliché. It feels like Jackie's take on a western style rather than something that's exclusively his own thing. There's actual product placement, for instance. You'd never see that in a Yuen Woo-ping movie.

Beyond modernity and genre tropes, the comedy actually becomes a disadvantage as well. Jackie clearly has a thing for physical humour. Obviously he's very good at it. Yet he overplays it in Police Story, with the witness protection subterfuge and Jackie's girlfriend troubles taking up a huge chunk of the screen time. Eventually the larger stakes begin to erode, until the finale arrives to crank up the heat and reintroduce some jeopardy.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy Police Story, and recognise its larger importance as a staple in Jackie Chan's filmography. I just think it's a case where the parts are superior to the whole. Put it this way: next time I'm in the mood for some Chan action, I'd rather watch something more cohesive, like Project A, Wheels on Meals, or The Young Master. Still looking forward to revisiting the sequels though.

Best part: Mall madness. C'mon, like it could be anything else.

Worst part: The aforementioned slapstick surplus.

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