Police Story

Police Story ★★★★

The opening fifteen minutes and final ten minutes of Police Story are the stuff of action movie legend. Everyone always talks about the mall finale, rightfully so, but that opening village sequence is an incredible introduction to the next era in Hong Kong action. The kinetic shootout and the insane hillside destruction derby. The death-defying bus antics that places Jackie Chan among the illustrious company of Harold Lloyd and Indiana Jones. It’s pure cinematic adrenaline, a mission statement, a stuntwork bonanza, clearly building upon what come before while feeling fresh and different.

But...

...the rest of the movie between those unforgettable bookends wasn’t as great as I remembered. The action beats, even some of the humor, are all fantastic: inventive, thrillingly choreographed, bruising, painful, powered by Jackie Chan’s boundless energy. But many of the non-action sections sag with dull characters and cliches. The villains are barely more than fuel to drive the stunt and slapstick engines, which means all their scheming and the courtroom section feel like filler. The other cops and friends surrounding Chan are just as bland when they’re not given a spark of life through a comic sequence or action scene. Jackie himself is always fun to watch, even seethes with a memorable fury I didn’t expect from his performance, but I think Hung and Chia-Liang were better at pacing their plots compared to Chan.

But...

...the mall sequence is such hard-hitting beautifully-orchestrated payoff that I can kind of forgive that weaker middle section. Actors and stuntpeople alike sacrificed their bodies for a room-annihilating spectacle, the likes of which just doesn’t exist nowadays. No one before or since has made fighting against groups look so brutally convincing, and shattering glass has never been this hypnotic or entertaining. To watch Police Story is to see the influence of Cheh, Hung, and myriad others come to fruition, and the path laid out for countless more to follow.

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