Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” was one of the great action films of the 1980s. It’s a collection of police-on-the-edge clichés that climaxes with Hong Kong cop hero Chan who goes to war with his superior officers and crime lord hoodlums who remain stubbornly beyond the reach of the law. The synthesized score is music to ruffle someone’s hair. Like many of Chan’s films from this period of his career, it ends with a freeze frame, followed by punching Chan and his co-stars on set and getting hurt, scoring a pop song sung by Chan himself.
But—like the most memorable comedies, and the most memorable thrillers—the excellence of “Police Story” has nothing to do with the type of film, and everything to do with the way it is executed. Like most of Chan’s signature films, this one is driven by his ingenuity as an athlete, action choreographer, and director.
The plot finds Chan’s character, Kevin Chan, trying to protect state witness Selina Fong (Bridgett Lin), gangster boyfriend Chu Tao (Chor Yuen), from kidnapping and murder before he can testify in court. series of standalone set-pieces featuring a variety of physical acting, from stage fights. and death-defying stunts for pratfalls and bits of cliché shtick.
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“Police Story” begins and ends with a long, intricately choreographed, and extremely violent sequence in which, respectively, a mountainside village and a department store are destroyed. The rest is a series of equally ridiculous encounters but on a smaller scale, some modeled on crazy comedies, others about crimes created during the first half of the 20th century by screen comics like Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and personal gods. Chan, actor/director/substitute for Buster Keaton. Like most Hong Kong action stars of his generation, Chan was trained by the Peking Opera Company as a versatile performer who can do a lot with his body and is eager to prove it. The entire film has the mentality of an accomplished showman who wants to dazzle every moment, big or small. During the lengthy, gag-dominated middle of “Police Story,” Chan would occasionally perform brief, small-scale action scenes, such as the scene in which his character fights with a group of men in a parking lot, as if to convince moviegoers. who is only here for the punches, car crashes, and wild stunts he won’t forget. But they are just one taste in the expanse.
Crime lord lawyers make like Marx’s brothers in court, twisting language and logic into pretzels to make his clearly guilty client appear innocent. Kevin’s girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung), who thinks Kevin is having an affair with Selina, argues with him on the uphill road while Kevin leans against the open passenger side window in his car, acting as a human brake as he accidentally leaves the vehicle in neutral. In a very strange and violent slapstick scene, Kevin asks a colleague to pretend to be the killer who attacked the house to get Selina to accept him as his protector; it plays like something out of a horror spoof like “Scary Movies.” There’s even a bit of “solo” where Kevin tries to keep up three phone conversations while rolling around the squad room on a desk chair and getting tangled in the cord. (Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin used to allow themselves to do these kinds of things. intimate displays, turning ordinary objects like coat racks or dinner rolls into scene partners.)
At any given moment, a character is equally likely to bang their head against a door or be pushed through a series of glass windows. There’s a sad scene of Kevin being betrayed by a co-worker and seeing his stolen gun used in a murder that could have appeared in a hardcore 80s urban thriller like “Nighthawks” or the original “48 HRS”, and they coexist in a stylish birthday party romance. comedy goes awry where Kevin gets a series of cakes thrown in his face, as well as a scene where Kevin steps on cow dung and walks on the moon to get out of it. At times the film’s humor is consciously naive, even childish. Other times it’s brutally brutal, or almost Chaucerian in its ugliness, as if we’re looking at a morality tale of misery that intensifies when you persecute others.
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