ON DVD & BLU-RAY
Jackie Chan's Police Story & Police Story 2 Blu Ray (Eureka!)
Eureka Entertainment’s boxed set brings together a duet of Hong Kong martial arts superstar Jackie Chan’s best-loved action-comedies from the 1980s. Both films are also notable for giving an early role to Maggie Cheung, who went on to become one of the most internationally well-regarded actresses on the Asian continent.
Watch a trailer:
Police Story (1985)
Jackie Chan plays Chan Ka Kui, a Hong Kong police officer who is assigned to participate in an operation to bust a drug kingpin named Chu Tao (Yuen Chor). This culminates in a violent shootout and spectacular chase through a shanty town which results in several arrests, including Tao himself and his secretary Selina (Brigitte Lin). Despite the ultimate success of the operation, Chan’s superior Raymond Li (Kwok-Hung Lam) is unimpressed with the messy trail of destruction which he has left in his wake. As a result, he decides to assign him the demeaning task of guarding Selina until she can stand in court as a witness against Tao. The bulk of the film follows Chan’s incident-prone endeavours - both to keep Selina out of danger and to ease the concerns his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) has about the attentions he is paying towards this other woman.
Police Story is opened and closed by two of the most spectacular action sequences ever committed to film. Firstly, there’s a lengthy chase involving cars crashing through the entirety of a hillside shantytown and Chan dangling from the outside of a double-decker bus using an umbrella. Secondly, there’s a climactic scenery-trashing scuffle in a shopping mall, the highlight being a stunt involving the star sliding down a huge multi-storey light fixture - which is shown three times from different camera angles. These two extended setpieces look as mind-bogglingly dangerous as they undoubtedly were to film. Indeed, in true Chan tradition, the outtakes which play behind the closing credits include shots of him being carried away by crew members having suffered injuries.
The rest of the film isn’t quite in the same league as the aforementioned scenes, with a predictably standard cop drama plot serving as an excuse for Chan (who also co-wrote and co-directed) to give keep himself active via an endless string of smaller-scale fights, stunts and comedy routines. Nonetheless, the proceedings are never less than entertaining and, while the comedy places a heavy emphasis on Buster Keaton style slapstick, there is a bit more in the way of dialogue-based humour than you might expect - a lengthy courtroom scene which hilariously refers back to a couple of early moments being the most notable example. The funniest and most well-constructed comic sequence, however, involves Chan attempting to juggle several phone calls at a police station.
While it’s worth bearing in mind that this was one of Maggie Cheung’s earliest big-screen roles, fans may be disappointed that she has been sidelined into a rather unflattering and stereotypically sexist role as Chan’s petulant, clumsy girlfriend. Brigitte Lin (who subsequently became better known for her iconic roles in such films as The Bride with White Hair in 1993 and Chungking Express in 1994) at least gets the occasional opportunity to one-up the men in an otherwise standard damsel-in-distress part.
Once you leave aside the dated sexual politics, however, Police Story is a textbook example of the reasons why Jackie Chan became firmly established as one of Asia’s biggest movie stars during the 1980s.
Runtime: 100 mins
Dir: Jackie Chan, Chi-Hwa Chen
Script: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Kwok-Hung Lam, Bill Tung, Yuen Chor
Police Story 2 (1988)
This sequel commences shortly after where the events of the original left off. Superintendent Raymond Li (Kwok-Hung Lam) has demoted Chan (Jackie Chan) to traffic duty after all of the mayhem and destruction which he caused by the end of the last film. Even worse, his adversary Chu Tao (Yuen Chor) has been released after just 3 months in jail in order to get medical help - and his lieutenant John Ko (Charlie Cho) has taken to taunting both him and his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) in a vengeful campaign of harassment. Things really start to heat up, however, when a criminal gang instigates a bombing and blackmail campaign against a Hong Kong corporation. Needless to say Chan, who would rather be on holiday in Bali with the love of his life, is brought on the case.
While this sequel gives us the requisite doses of action and comedy, they take somewhat longer to arrive than they did in its predecessor. The original delivered a lengthy, spectacular sequence more or less out of the starting gate. In this instance, however, the first proper action setpiece which we get is a more modest, shortish (but still entertaining) fight in a restaurant which occurs quite a few scenes in. The slower, more deliberate pacing continues through most of the runtime, with the narrative concentrating on Chan’s on-off relationship with May and lots of police procedural stuff involving various criminal types being either interrogated or put under surveillance.
The result has a bit more depth and is better constructed than the first film but, on the downside, doesn’t offer quite as much in the way of pure, unfettered fun. That said, the highlights are well worth waiting for. For instance, there’s a classic one-take comic sequence involving Maggie Cheung’s character arguing with Chan in a police station male changing room, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a number of his colleagues are showering naked a couple of metres away from her. The last 20 or so minutes are also pretty awesome, featuring a frantic attempt to defuse a bomb, a shedload of truly death-defying stunts and a grand finale in a fireworks factory which literally goes out with a bang… or, more accurately, hundreds of bangs.
Runtime: 120 mins
Dir: Jackie Chan
Script: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Kwok-Hung Lam, Bill Tung, Keung-Kuen Lai, Charlie Cho, Yuen Chor
Blu Ray Audio-Visual
Polished cinematography wasn’t a priority when Chan made his 1980s Hong Kong vehicles. As such, you can expect some blurred shots and underlit interiors in both films. Even considering this, the picture looks a bit darker than it needs to be at times. However, some of the larger stunts do look truly jaw-dropping in 4K.
There is an absolute treasure trove of stuff in this box set including an enclosed booklet, three versions of the first Police Story (the others are a 105-minute Japanese cut and 84-minute American home video cut), three versions of Police Story 2 (the others are a 101-minute original Hong Kong version and a 90-minute UK VHS release cut), trailers and more.
Here are the other extras available on the first Police Story disc:
Alternate and Extended Scenes
We get extended versions of the opening (featuring a birthday party scene involving a couple of custard pie gags), the police press conference (with a bit more dialogue) and the ending (featuring an additional scene showing Chan reuniting with May while Selina gets taken away by in a police car). We also get a collection of brief shots which were missing from the Hong Kong version but are present in the extended cut. These are shown in context with the relevant surrounding scenes. Finally, we can view the closing outtakes without the end credits rolling over them.
Jackie Chan Stunts Promo
This archive featurette shows some behind-the-scenes footage and more injury-related outtakes from a number of Chan’s films of this period.
Interview with Jackie Chan
This illuminating interview with the star is well worth a watch. He reveals that he makes films by outlining the major action scenes that he wishes to include and asking his screenwriters to write the story around them. He also discusses some of the stunts which were filmed for Police Story; the scene where he slides down the shopping mall light fixture was particularly dangerous because it was hooked up the building’s main generator, thus meaning that he faced as much danger from electric shock as he did from falling. He admits that he does get scared at the prospect of carrying out his own stunts but, in the end, places confidence in his team to (in many ways, literally) catch him when he falls.
Here are the other extras available on the Police Story 2 disc:
Jackie Chan - Son of The Incredibly Strange Film Show
This episode from the Jonathan Ross-presented show, originally aired in 1989, is a highly enjoyable look at Chan’s career up to that point. Jonathan visits Hong Kong and meets the star on the set of what was then his latest film (entitled Miracles). The show looks at the reasons why he became so successful, his early days when he was trumpeted as “the next Bruce Lee” in New Fists of Fury (1976), his subsequent carving out his own niche of kung fu comedy in Drunken Master (1978) and his disappointing 1980s American ventures.
The documentary also takes a look at some of the more injurious stunts from his films over the years. One failed leap from a tree in The Armour of God ended up with him having a hole in his skull (which Ross feels with his hand when he interviews the star). Co-star Maggie Cheung was injured while filming Police Story 2 and had to stay in hospital for a week to recover. On the other hand, Chan reveals that a brief scene included in the latter film where is hit by a moving van was, in fact, a happy accident as the stunt driver was supposed to stop before running into him.
Interview with Benny Lai
Lai was a member of Jackie Chan’s stunt team during this period and played the deaf-mute bad guy in Police Story 2. This featurette mixes interview footage with him demonstrating his martial arts prowess on a Hong Kong rooftop. He discusses his training, his experiences of working with the star and Police Story 2’s firecracker stunts. He reveals that these fireworks were brought in from Macau and, during the torture scene where he hurls them at Chan, he accidentally hit him in the eye, causing him yet another of his injuries. Don’t try it at home, kids!
If you’re a Jackie Chan fan, then this two-film set is an absolute must. If you’re not, it’s well worth a look to see what all the fuss is about. He shows today’s cosseted, CGI-enhanced modern action stars how it’s done, and displays a great sense of humour while doing so.
Police Story 2