30 for 30: Police Story

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

October 2nd, 2019

(Lots of great lines but I'd be remiss if Ididn't do an action here) *Leaps and slides down lit light display and through the set*

     I knew I'd have a hard time choosing films over each other from single directors but boy, was it ever hard choosing a Jackie Chan film out of them all. Jackie Chan is kind of underrated in regards to one's earlier years, specifically those around my age, since I feel like everyone just sort of knows who he is, and enjoys him as the nice guy that does incredible stunts in his films. Not to mention we had Jackie Chan Adventures, so it's only a given that he would be around even on Saturday mornings.
     After a long, headache inducing back and forth, the final two were between Drunken Master II (Legend of the Drunken Master here in North America) and Police Story. As you can see, I went with Police Story, but you should absolutely make time to watch Drunken Master II if you haven't before, especially if you've never experienced the incredible final fight sequence that may legitimately rank as one of, if not the, top fisticuffs finale to a film.

     But on to Police Story! And unfortunately, with Police Story, there's only so much I can say. I can talk about how Jackie Chan is his usual charming self, how the film is such a great example of the perfect mix of comedy and action that he's known for, the fantastic battles and phenomenal set pieces, the wonderful supoorting cast and the characters they play... and much more. The issue is that Police Story ranks above many other films in the category of "Please, just go watch it." When I recommend films to people I usually take into account their own tastes and personal favourites, so I wouldn't go out of my way to tell people to run off and go see any movie on the 30-for-30 list immediately, but I would here.

     Police Story came about from Jackie Chan's bad experience working on The Protector, which was meant to be his breakthrough to American films and audiences, with John Glickenhaus. Returning home, Chan went to work on a film where he could showcase what he really wanted to achieve, and what he had been building up to in his younger days. Needless to say, what Chan achieved was the reason that Police Story ranks as one of those films I tell people to just seek out and watch; it's one of the best action films ever made.
     The movie begins with a police bust that builds into a car chase through a hillside shanty town before turning into a bus related battle and footchase and never truly lets up. The set pieces are strung together with Chan's character dealing with the aftermath of the opening bust, acquiring a small level of fame, whilst still dealing with sealing up all the loose ends involving the criminal they have captured.
     Chan's comedy work is just as great and endearing as the action and stunts he's known for. He's an incredibly likable and charismatic individual, and he's able to bring his character, someone who may not be as in tune or perceptive to others feelings as he may be (like his poor, dealing-with-more-than-she-should girlfriend) and in turn is a little jerk-ish at times, a level of sweetness that could easily be lost by anyone with lesser charisma. His character, Ka-Kui, is genuinely kind hearted and well intentioned, even if he may still be a bit immature. But this immaturity lends way to growth and showing just how caring and sweet he can be in the end.

     But Jackie isn't the only great thing about the film, as he's surrounded by a group of great actors playing some great characters that you feel wouldn't have as much to do or build off of if it was something similiar on this side of the pond. Brigitte Lin as a crime lord's secretary Chan is responsible for is great, with a sense of her own independence while being able to handle her own while still, believably, not wanting to believe that her boss would put her in harms way. Bill Tung and Lam Kwok-Hung as an Inspector and Chan's Superintendent are given enough to do to not only showcase personality, but give you a sense of the fact that they are doing things outside of their screentime, to the point where a moment involving Chan and Kwok-Hung feels understandable and believable in terms of how Kwok-Hung's character reacts in the end. Chor Yuen, on the other side of things, is immensely enjoyable as the slimey crime lord at the heart of things.
     The real standout in the supporting cast is Maggie Cheung as Ka-Kui's girlfriend May. She is so sweet and adorable, wanting nothing more than be there for her boyfriend and help, while trying to have him spend some more time and attention on her that he is throwing all of into work. She puts up with so much here but is constantly coming back to allow him more chances to right himself because she loves him. She's the heart of the movie here in a lot of ways and instances, and you can't help but fall in love with her almost immediately, and you can fully buy why these two would be together even with the issues they ahve over the course of the runtime.

     I got to see Police Story (and it's sequel, which is also great) in theaters for its new transfer, and I took my girlfriend who hadn't seen it before. I had a great time finally being able to see it on a big screen while my girlfriend almost immediately fell in love with it. Having rewatched it recently, it is just as exhilirating to watch at home as it was in the theater. The film is incredibly rewatchable and charming, a brilliant showcase of all the reasons we love Jackie Chan and why he has endured for so long. It may be arguable how high or where it ranks in the list of greatest action films ever (*cough* near the top *cough*), but there's no arguing that it is easily one of my favourites ever, and if you haven't watched it before, it may become one of yours as well.