Children of Bond - Police Story
Police Story is a 1985 Hong
Kong action film directed by and starring Jackie Chan and written by
Edward Tang. Full of eye-popping and bone-crunching stunts, invention,
fun, laughs, spectacle and energy, Police Story is Jackie Chan in his
eighties heyday, years before he was diluted by a move to Hollywood and
required to speak English in some truly terrible films. This
high-octane caper begins with the Hong Kong Police Force undertaking a
huge undercover mission known as Operation Boar in an attempt to
capture the infamous night-club owner and drug boss Chu Tao (Yuen Chor)
close to a hillside shanty town. But the police, who naturally include
Jackie Chan as Inspector Chan Ka-Kui, have their cover blown when they
are spotted by the criminals, triggering a truly spectacular and
destructive car chase through the flimsy hillside shanty dwellings.
Ka-Kui manages to nab Chu Tao in ingenious - if unconventional fashion
- and is lauded as a great hero and model police officer but his
problems are only just beginning because the charges against Chu Tao
are duly dropped. The police decide to use Chu Tao's secretary, Selina
Fong (Brigitte Lin), as a witness for the prosecution and Chan Ka-Kui
is assigned to protect her while she waits to testify. Selina is rather
reluctant to accept Chan's help but soon attracts all manner of Chu
Tao's hoodlums out for their blood. If that wasn't enough, Chan also
has to deal with the domestic jealously of his long-suffering
girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung).
is a joyous spirit to Jackie Chan's best Hong Kong films that makes you
smile throughout them and often astonished at what you are seeing
onscreen - this feeling magnified by the knowledge that it was Jackie
Chan himself who really did all these crazy stunts you are watching. It
is I suppose Bruce Lee meets Buster Keaton meets a seventies or
eighties Bond film (and the Police story series would become more
Bondian as it went on - Police Story 4 is essentially a globetrotting
Bond film with Jackie as a Hong Kong version of 007) and always helped
a great deal by the fact that Jackie Chan, despite all of his kung-fu
shenanigans and athleticism, is a likeable and very human hero who
often gets it wrong almost as much as he gets it right in Police Story.
incredible shanty town chase that opens the film, with cars barreling
down a hillside in a dusty cloud of destruction, buildings collapsing,
washing lines flying, has more invention, fun, style and giddy
wide-eyed spectacle during in its short duration than most Hollywood
action films can manage in their entirety. The shanty town was built
from scratch at a cost of half a million dollars to destroy for the
film and it all makes for an amazing set-piece to open Police Story.
This opening would have made a great PTS to a Bond film I think.
Chan apparently had a very dispiriting experience on one of his recent
films at the time Police Story came out. He'd just made The Protector -
which was an attempt to crack the American market and had a US director
who didn't know how to get the best out of him. Frustrated by how it
all turned out, Chan decided to go back to Hong Kong and take full
creative control again. He put absolutely everything he had into Police
Story and it really shows!
police chase for Chu Tao continues on foot and we are treated to the
sight of Jackie hanging onto a moving double decker bus with the aid of
an umbrella (!) and an astoundingly painful looking climax where the
stuntmen certainly earn their money. The fact that this is all done for
real in an age before CGI makes it all the more impressive and far more
authentic than modern action films could ever hope to be.
there is one possible criticism to level at these Hong Kong action
films though it is that perhaps not all of the comedy translates
smoothly and can be rather broad at times, often veering towards farce.
The performances certainly aren't subtle but one could say they match
the spirit and free for all nature of the film. What the comedy does do
though is set Police Story up for a rollercoaster third act and some of
the comedy is definitely fun - like a moment where Jackie does some
Shaolin moonwalking and an amusing sequence where he has to man the
busy telephone lines alone at the police station while he eats some
noodles for lunch with predictably comic results.
Ka-Kui's attempts to protect Selina and ensure May doesn't become too
jealous are a little overplayed at times but we do get some terrific
fight sequences whenever Selina is threatened by Chu Tao's goons with
Jackie Chan's physical dexterity showcased to great effect many times
throughout the film. Fights with countless hoodlums are all carried off
with great panache and skill with anything that happens to be nearby,
including stationary cars, becoming part of the action and a prop for
Jackie to incorporate into the fight.
Chaplinesque grace and timing is what makes Police Story and these old
Jackie Chan films in general so enjoyable. It also helps to alleviate
the sometimes dark and violent nature of the film. Chan Ka-Kui is
framed in the film and finds he can't trust anyone, consequently
turning his wrath on Chu Tao and his gang. That said, this isn't Martin
Scorsese or ever too concerned with a plot. It's just meant to be
high-octane fun, a winning fusion of Hong Kong chop socky, action
cinema, and the silent comedy era.
Story is perhaps best known for the amazing shopping mall sequence with
an extraordinary amount of (obviously fake) glass (the stunt crew
working on the film apparently jokingly referred to the project as
'Glass Story') being destroyed and smashed to smithereens through
plenty of high-energy fight sequences with a motorcycle and escalators
also incorporated into the action. It also contains one of the most
incredible stunts of Jackie Chan's career (and one that seriously
injured him) when Chan Ka-Kui slides down a huge lightbulb-clad pole
that dominates the mall, lightbulbs bursting and popping as he
obstreperously makes his way downwards at high speed.
Hong Kong locations are great fun too and these films are of course
only to be watched with subtitles - not in the dreaded dubbed English
language versions which take away the atmosphere and irritate. In
addition to the incredible work of Chan and his stunt team, Maggie
Cheung as May is certainly put through her paces too with car and moped
capers and proves well up to the task. Police Story is full of
outrageous mayhem and incredible stunts and remains a highly
entertaining example of Jackie Chan at his best.