Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jackie Chan,
Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Ken Tsang, Yuen Wah, Bill Tung
Director: Stanley Tong
Audio: English DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Dragon Dynasty
Features: See Review
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: January 13, 2009
“This is Chief Inspector Yang...she can teach you a great deal.”
“I can see that.”
There is only one Jackie Chan…I knew that before I ever saw my first movie with him as the star. But it was Supercop that also taught me there is only one Michelle Yeoh.
Supercop was actually my first Jackie Chan film, and interestingly enough, I got to see it on the big screen in its original Asian release form as Police Story III: Supercop. It was part of a foreign film festival held at one of the local theatres. When I saw it, it hadn’t been ‘Americanized’ with dubbing and western rock and hip-hop music, and it was uncut and complete. What an experience!
At the time, Jackie Chan was the biggest action star in the world outside of our country, but he had only been relegated to small and unchallenging parts in American films while earning cult status amongst true martial art movie enthusiasts as the man who truly picked up where Bruce Lee left off. Chan was fearless and funny, performing his own stunts and bringing a sense of modernism and self-deprecation to what was once only a formulaic period style of filmmaking.
With Police Story, he made what was once old something new, brining Inspector Chan into current times with all of the kung-fu skills and artistry he could muster. From that point on, these movies would no longer be only about ancient warriors and their codes and masters, but could instead be about cops who tote guns, chase down buses, and have climactic fight sequences in shopping malls.
It was no surprise that Chan would return to his winning formula a few more times, and by the time of Rumble in the Bronx, it was clear that the United States was finally ready to meet Jackie on his own terms. Other Asian films would follow, but with dubbing, truncating, and other updates to placate our restless audiences. Supercop was one of the first to get such a treatment.
In this installment, Inspector Chan is given a tough undercover assignment to bring down a crime lord known as Chaibat (Tsang). His objective? Pose as a criminal, break Chiabat’s top man and brother Panther (Wah) out of a prison work camp, and infiltrate the organization. Though Chan is used to working alone, this time, he has a partner: Jessica Yang (Yeoh), a federal agent with a no-nonsense approach but skills to match Chan.
While keeping their identities as officers secret, they serve with Panther side by side on their way up in the outfit, hoping to finally get their hands on Chaibat, and more importantly, his wife, who controls the accounts for all the ill-gotten gains. But how long can Chan keep his profile, especially when confronted by his tour guide fiancée May (Cheung), who has no idea that her man is on official business while at a hotel?
The film, directed by Stanley Tong, is a high-flying slice of action and comedy, with Jackie at his best performing some amazing fight scenes and doing incredible stunts, most notably his unscheduled flight across Hong Kong while dangling from a rope ladder attached to a helicopter. I knew he could do it. Michelle Yeoh, at the time, was a complete and delightful surprise. Her fighting skills were impressive, and she was pretty fearless in her own right. Watching her leap a motorcycle on to the top of a moving train? It doesn’t get much more thrilling.
As a fan, I prefer it when I can see Jackie’s movies in original form, uncut and undoctored and undubbed. This DVD presents a version that’s only 4 minutes shorter than what was seen in Asia, and you at least have the option of hearing the original language track if you prefer. At least in the English version, you have Jackie and Michelle dubbing their own voices; that isn’t always the case with Asian imports. And hey, appropriate or not, you have to dig Tom Jones’ version of “Kung Fu Fighting” over the obligatory end-credit outtakes.
Though it may lack the overall wow factor of the original Police Story, Supercop continued Jackie’s winning formula for another welcome installment. And I can’t say enough about pairing him with Michelle Yeoh…the lackluster Supercop 2 notwithstanding, where Jackie had only a cameo role, I still hope these two legends of Hong Kong cinema will team up again someday.
Much improved this time around…thankfully, at long last, we have an anamorphic transfer for this movie. Considering how poor film preservation can be in Asia, this is a strikingly good presentation, with solid detail and excellent, natural looking colors throughout. A few darker scenes exhibit some grain and murkiness, but overall, a pleasant experience.
If you want English, you have Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks, which are both extremely dynamic and make generous use of the surround signals and subwoofer. The original Cantonese track is also here, but in original mono form.
The first disc in the set contains an enjoyable commentary by Bey Logan, an expert on Hong Kong cinema. The second disc contains four interviews with Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Stanley Tong and Jackie’s training partner and co-star Ken Lo.
The pairing of Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh makes Supercop a must-see for fans of true Hong Kong action. These superstars bring out the best in one another, and as such, this is a completely fun and exciting ride.