Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

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Masterofoneinchpunch
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Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 26 Aug 2015, 17:12

My Police Story review on MovieFanFare which just went up today.

This is a rewrite of a previous essay I had did on the film. Please feel free to comment here or on that site.

Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

“As far as action is concerned, Police Story is my favorite movie I’ve ever made…” – Jackie Chan from I Am Jackie Chan (1998 with Jeff Yang)

French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard once said that the best criticism a director can make of one film is to make another. Jackie Chan was so dissatisfied with his experience on the cop drama The Protector, his second staring lead in an American film after Battle Creek Brawl, that he decided to make his own police story under his underused vanity label Golden Ways Films Ltd. In Hong Kong, he would have much more control over the script, stunt coordination and direction (he made sure he would direct this film) that if he was going to flounder it would be on his terms. The result of his efforts is one of my favorite action films as well as Jackie’s personal favorite amongst his modern fare. I consider this a classic among action cinema and I hope I can persuade you to see this, if you have not already, like I attempted to with my previous essay on Yojimbo.

Jackie Chan is Chan Ka-kui a model Hong Kong cop who gets involved in a police procedural code-named Operation Boar Hunt to take down a triad led by Chu Tu (prolific director/actor Chor Yuen). This operation begins in a shanty town specifically built for the film. The detail is extraordinary in the design and like everything created for an action film it is short-lived. In one of the most awesome car chases I have ever witnessed on screen (for me up there with Bullitt and The Blue’s Brother’s mall scene) Chu Tu after being cornered by the police decide to drive through the hovels instead of being captured and Chan decides to chase after. The juxtaposition of having the camera in the vehicle and long shots in which stuntmen are scurrying to avoid being hit (several stuntmen were injured in this scene) are sagacious in displaying the maelstrom of destruction. That and it is pretty damn cool.

Most films would have given a respite after that tumultuous scene of car and house derby but as soon as Chan finishes the car chase he goes into foot mode while running after a double-decker bus that Chu Tu and a few of his cronies hijacked. In several of these scenes as he catches up to the bus he is literally hanging by an umbrella as he holds unto the outside of the bus trying to climb his way in while fighting people who do not want him aboard as well as dodging traffic as the bus speeds along. Two of the stuntmen got hurt at the end of this scene where Ka Kui forces the bus to stop and as they flew out of the top windows they were supposed to land on top of the car that was stopped in the middle of the road but the backward momentum of the brakes as the bus rocked backward after stopping made them undershoot the stunt and land on the road.

Police Story has a stronger storyline than most Chan movies to connect the action scenes. After the arrest of Chu Tu, Inspector Li sets up his secretary Selina Fong (Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia) by letting her go free of all charges to try to pit her against her boss. Ka Kui is assigned to protect her (several scenes of this scenario were cut out of the film). This, of course, will interfere and cause problems with his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk whose relationship with Jackie is underplayed though that would change in the sequel). Chan tries to trick Selina into trusting him by pretending to save the day when Mars attacks Selina in her apartment. What ultimately happens because of this is predictable as well as the cop working for the triad but these are mere trifles.

The comedy is underrated in this film. There is a great sequence in which Jackie is assigned to the Sha Tau Kok Police Station, a rural area in the north eastern corner of Hong Kong, after he completely messes up the prosecution of Chu Tu. He deftly tries to answer several phones and juggle several conversations at the same time while not being really successful in solving any of them. Like Project A, his influence by silent film comedians is shown in how he performs this skit with physical perfection. This scene is so sublime I cannot fathom why this was missing in older American prints. I also enjoyed a nice little scene where Jackie does this beautiful car-slide stunt by doing the ultimate parallel parking literary by sliding the car parallel into a spot barely bigger than the car.

For many action fans the highlight of this film is the final sequence nicknamed “Glass Story” by the stuntmen. It takes place in a mall where Jackie has cornered Chu Tu and his cronies. It is 10 minutes of superlative martial arts, stunts and action. The highlights include great fights by Jackie with clothes racks, Brigitte Lin doing her own fighting, Chan doing a great jump into moving stairs, lots and lots of broken glass and the famous multi-story slide down a pole. Jackie severely burnt his hands on his slide down, partially attributed to the wrong voltage being set on the lights attached to it and it is also mentioned on several web sites and his own autobiography that he injured his spine and hip on that drop. This is a bit doubtful (though I have had arguments on this point) because on a camera with an alternate angle from the floor shown in certain deleted footage shows him bouncing up after the fall and slugging a stuntman and according to Fung Hak-on hurting him. If you have ever had a back injury (I have several times) you usually do not do get up after it happens or beat up your stuntmen.

This movie not only influenced the Hong Kong action picture and spawn several sequels, it would also influence American action pictures. Sylvester Stallone would use the bus scene in Tango and Cash, the shanty chase in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II, several early scenes were copied in Rapid Fire, Brett Ratner took so much from this film in making Rush Hour (self-admitted in Ratner’s commentary on Rush Hour as well as Dragon Dynasty’s Police Story DVD) and countless other action choreographers and directors would be directly or indirectly affected by this work. This movie was created because of the visionary ideas of Jackie Chan and also because of the exhaustive effort of Sing Ga Ban – Jackie Chan’s Stuntman Association and their every increasing attempts to out due the rival stuntman association led by Sammo Hung. Their backbreaking accomplishments helped make this a hit (26 million HK dollars and win the Best Film for the Hong Kong Film Awards) and became a favorite of action auteur directors everywhere.

DVD Notes: I was so happy to get a R1 version of this film when Dragon Dynasty put out the DVD in 2006. The quality of the picture could be better (Police Story 2 from Dragon Dynasty has a much better print) but overall I am satisfied with it. The commentary with Hong Kong action movie expert Bey Logan and director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) was decent with Logan pointing out small tidbits of information like how Sammo Hung asked Bill Tung for horse advice during shooting, pointing out the cameo by Clarence Ford (Naked Killer) as the photographer and also pointing out who every person acting was though sometimes this got annoying. I did wish he would have put more info about one of my favorite actors Fung Hak-on who helped with the stunt choreography and acted as Danny Chu. Ratner would talk about how this movie influenced him and occasionally get his facts wrong (like confuse Brigitte Lin with Maggie Cheung) and was completely ignorant about many Jackie Chan films (Winners and Sinners and every other early Jackie Chan film except Drunken Master) but was still decent to listen to. There are deleted scenes, alternate opening and ending, A Tribute to Jackie Chan, A conversation with Jackie Chan, Stunts Unlimited: A retrospective with members of the celebrated Jackie Chan stunt team and trailers. It has Cantonese and English soundtracks though Jackie was not yet using his voice on the Cantonese dubbing. This movie has also been released by Shout! on BD and DVD with Police Story 2. But they lack the plethora of extras that the Dragon Dynasty releases have.

Sources:
Book: I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (1998) with Jeff Yang.
Book: Planet Hong Kong (Second Edition: 2011) by David Bordwell
Book: The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1999 (2009) by John Charles
Reviews at HKMDB and IMDB.
Unholy Dedication: A History of Jackie Chan's "Police Story" Franchise (June 4, 2015 by Simon Abrams)

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby grim_tales » 27 Aug 2015, 11:06

Great review :D

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby saltysam » 01 Sep 2015, 18:19

Love Police Story,my first viewing came via a Palace VHS.i have the Shout! BD which is a poor upscale,the best version knocking around is a custom of the Japanese HD print
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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 01 Sep 2015, 18:35

saltysam wrote:Love Police Story,my first viewing came via a Palace VHS.i have the Shout! BD which is a poor upscale,the best version knocking around is a custom of the Japanese HD print


Good to know about the Shout! BD.

As you might tell by the review/essay I am a big fan of this. I lend this all the time. I do not think anyone has not liked it I have lent it to (if they did not I just blocked that out of memory.) This movie has been in my top 10 HK films for ages (a several thousand top 50 essay I did on HK several years back had this at number one for me.)

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 01 Sep 2015, 18:59

It's been years since I've seen this, used to always have it on. I only had the HKL disc, which has very squished picture and poor audio. This is yet another HK classic awaiting home video justice.
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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby hanshotfirst1138 » 30 Sep 2015, 04:54

If only there was a home video release of it worth a damn.

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 30 Sep 2015, 17:04

hanshotfirst1138 wrote:If only there was a home video release of it worth a damn.


Considering the extras with the Dragon Dynasty release I think it is a worthy purchase. I grew up with grainy VHS full-screen sources (and heck still have to revisit very bad copies of movies when doing research) so this release did not bother me in the slightest. Now that doesn't mean a better job could have been done on the transfer, and yes a better job should be done for this magnificent film.

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Markgway » 30 Sep 2015, 19:34

Is the DD release's mono not still out of sync though?

There's definitely a reason I didn't buy it.
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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 30 Sep 2015, 19:47

Markgway wrote:Is the DD release's mono not still out of sync though?

There's definitely a reason I didn't buy it.


I'm not 100 percent sure. I have seen the DD release several times (lent it several times as well) and never noticed it. I will pay more attention next time to the bottom paragraph.

I read this on chud.com:
As for current releases, IVL/Fortune Star's POLICE STORY looks better, but the mono sound is out of sync and the 5.1 remix is your typical crappy Hong Kong remix. Mono sync on the Dragon Dynasty is... well, imperfect, but it's only noticable in spots.


and this on homeforumtheater:
Not quite so exemplary...their POLICE STORY DVD is pictorially inferior to the IVL release, and the Cantonese mono track runs annoyingly out-of-sync for about a minute during two key scenes, namely the shantytown apocalypse and the shopping mall massacre.
Last edited by Masterofoneinchpunch on 01 Oct 2015, 00:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Markgway » 30 Sep 2015, 23:49

Right. I knew there was something.
Bradavon: As probably the only guy on this forum who has snogged another man (3 times in fact), it didn't do a lot for me but I didn't hate it either. Who doesn't like a snog?

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Ray_Rogers » 02 Oct 2015, 21:05

Pity the Kam & Ronson releases for the Trilogy are SD upscales, I wouldn't touch the Shout! release, the custom Blu-ray I'd need to look into, STILL haven't gotten around to buying the HKL releases for the extra features (Don't know if they're available from Amazon UK OR Zavvi), and would Mediumrare Entertainment release it?

I've kept the IVL/Fortune Star sturdy trilogy DVD release set.

Film grain > DNR/EE
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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby grim_tales » 02 Oct 2015, 23:23

I don't know exactly what shipping is like to the US from Amazon Marketplace but theres loads available:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listin ... 521&sr=8-1 :)
Hope that helps

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby Ray_Rogers » 03 Oct 2015, 09:06

grim_tales wrote:I don't know exactly what shipping is like to the US from Amazon Marketplace but theres loads available:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listin ... 521&sr=8-1 :)
Hope that helps

Thanks Grim! Hopefully they also have international shipping too. I'm sure some of the sellers should. Weird importing DVDs again which aren't Classic Doctor Who, UK TV shows, or what I buy for use with custom Blu-ray compilations.
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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby grim_tales » 04 Oct 2015, 00:45

No worries :)

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Re: Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan: Hong Kong)

Unread postby chazgower01 » 28 Mar 2017, 13:18

I finally got the Hong Kong Rescue version of it, which is fantastic and includes tons of supplemental material.
He's had some shipping issues, but I was lucky and got mine in less than a month.

https://www.facebook.com/47038798978093 ... =3&theater


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