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NEW POLICE STORY

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Charlie Yeung, Charlene Choi, Daniel Wu
Director:  Benny Chan
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Lions Gate
Features:  See Review
Length:  123 Minutes
Release Date:  May 16, 2006

“I couldn’t save your brother…but I promise…

I’LL SAVE YOU.”

Film ***1/2

It was like a long-needed breath of fresh air to see Jackie Chan back, doing what he does best.  He flirted with Hollywood long enough…and though he had a few hits, nothing compares to him turning himself loose in Hong Kong, where he can make an action film his own way.

New Police Story is the fourth, fifth, or twenty-ninth installment in his show-stopping Asian franchise…it’s impossible to count.  What matters is that Jackie is back as Inspector Chan in the role that helped revolutionize action movies for Hong Kong, Asia, and eventually the world.

He may be in his 50s now, but there’s still nobody that does it better than him.  I’ve been a fan of his for as long as I can remember, seeking out anything and everything he’s done on DVD, even though most of his prime material has never been available in this country.  My collection of Jackie’s Hong Kong films are a prized possession to me.  I even managed to snag an autographed copy of My Stunts. 

New Police Story shows a Jackie Chan that doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the least, and offers his best performance since the little-seen-in-the-west Heart of Dragon.  As the film opens, we see a different Inspector Chan than we’re used to…dazed, drunken, and depressed.  Why?

Flash back a year when a team of young X-Gamers who treat large scale robberies like video games kill a bunch of cops for fun.  That’s their real pleasure, and Chan boldly proclaims on television that he’ll bring them all in within three hours. 

But they’re more than the proud inspector bargained for.  When he storms their hideout with a team of twelve cops, they’re ready for him…and soon Chan finds himself playing games in which he’s overmatched for the lives of his men.  This may be the most brutal sequence ever seen in a Jackie Chan movie, as he’s forced to watch helplessly as man after man dies in front of him.

The guilt drives him away from the force and away from his fiancée Ho Yee (Yeung), whose brother was one of the ones who got killed in Chan’s failed mission.  But now, a year later, a young cop named Frank (Tse) shows up, announces he’s Chan’s new partner, and begins to sober him up and focus his attention back on his duty.  The gang is still at large, which means every policeman is a potential target.

They’re not finished with Chan by a long shot, and before the picture ends, you’re going to see some breathtaking action sequences.  There’s a renegade bus, Jackie’s ingenious method of putting out a fiery rope, an amazing repel down a skyscraper using bikes and rollerblades, a slugfest in a Lego play land, and a stunning climax atop a convention center with rounded roofs.  If you’re a Jackie Chan fan, your mind is already running with the possibilities of what he can do with such setups.  And Jackie doesn’t disappoint.

Some of it’s silly, some of it’s goofy, some of it’s surprisingly hard hitting…all in all, what you expect from a Jackie Chan movie, and maybe something extra.  As mentioned, Jackie pulls out all the stops with a more complex and emotional performance than is usually demanded of him.  It’s no surprise that he does his own stunts, but it may raise a few eyebrows that he can act as well.

Director Benny Chan, who worked with Jackie on Who Am I and auteured Gen X Cops, is a formidable action man himself.  You can just point a camera at Jackie and create excitement, but Benny knows how to bring it all together to elevate the material even more.

This is what Jackie Chan does best.  It’s a shame most mainstream American audiences have never seen him at his best.  Those who only know Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon would find their jaws in their laps if they could get a look at Police Story or Project A.  You simply haven’t seen action until you’ve seen Jackie in his prime.  And even though his finest years may be behind him, he still delivers better than any Hollywood lightweight bring-in-the-stunt-double faux action hero. 

BONUS TRIVIA:  Jackie is singing the song that plays during the end credits.

Video ***1/2

This anamorphic transfer from Lions Gate is terrific…I’m used to a lot of old prints of Jackie’s movies from Asia where preservation isn’t a top priority, so anytime I can see him on DVD looking fresh, it’s a treat.  There’s a bit of grain here and there in darker sequences, but the brighter ones come across with impressive detail and clarity, and the action never lends to noticeable compression.

Audio ***

The 5.1 audio is a treat, and better still, you can enjoy it either in English or Cantonese.  Either works, but the dubbing sometimes inspires unintended laughs.  But that’s part of the fun.  Dynamic range is strong, and the action sequences really open up both front and rear stages.  Wait til you hear that bus tearing through Hong Kong!

Features ***

For the extras, you get some video commentary from Jackie on two scenes; the renegade bus and the top of the convention center.  There is also a good making-of documentary and a funny look at the dubbing process with Jackie.  Jackie offers a short DVD introduction, and a brief anti-piracy statement (“Don’t buy piracy DVDs, because I work very, very hard”).  Rounding out are some trailers.

Summary:

When you see Jackie Chan in action, you see a man without fear who’ll put himself through anything for the entertainment of his audience.  I hope he keeps making movies for a long time to come, because there’ll never be another like him.

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