Police Story

Police Story ★★★★


(Somewhat) misleading title, as the “police story” is nothing more than a support beam for one-hundred minutes of Jackie Chan engaging in [1] mesmerizingly choreographed fight sequences, [2] impossibly acrobatic scaling and maneuvering, and, [3] surprisingly long stretches of (mostly) physical and (occasionally) verbal comedy, to the point where I momentarily forgot we were technically amid an underlying procedural. (The police story only exists because there wouldn’t be much of a film without it.) Tell me all that up-front and I’d be prepared for a nightmarishly bad time, so it was much to my own amazement (and pleasure) that I found this both massively entertaining and sweet. And its sweetness is assuredly of a Candy Corn variety: Threatens to cloy in excess, but every now and then they quench a very specific craving that nothing else could possibly satisfy. Laughed my ass off when Chan is hoisting around his semi-unconscious buddy during a ruse-gone-wrong and the lady keeps bashing his head with pots, then again when he’s “talking” on a phone and a look of panic befalls his face when the clipped cord accidentally flies out. A majority of the verbal comedy works, too, if largely because I found it atypical and/or wasn’t expecting it—”Want something to drink?” / “Orange juice would be nice.” / “Then get it yourself.” Romantic plot line sits suspended in muddy water and never amounts to anything other than a perpetual set-up for gags, but when the gags are this great, it’s difficult to legitimately care. (Even Chan’s misogynistic attitude towards his girlfriend is treated gracefully, constantly reassuring us that he’s unquestionably an asshole toward her much of the time.) Weightiest portion of the film finds two superiors arguing over their subordinate’s potential guilt amid a criminal framing, and, between the loftiness of everything surrounding it, it strikes with genuine thrust. For as charming as I found Chan’s quirky, fast-paced humor, I do wish we could’ve been treated to some additional exhibits of his physical ability: The bookending brawls are awe-inspiring, to say the least, and leave the midriff feeling just a tad muted. But all in all, this was a great, great success. I might even be underrating it.

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