There doesnt seem to be enough whisky in the world to drown the sorrows of poor Inspector Chan. As he stumbles out of his favorite bar he can hardly stand, and his face is a mess of tears and memories that just wont leave him alone. He collapses in an alley in his own puke. How did things get so bad for Hong Kongs finest police officer? Glad you asked...
One year earlier. A hostage situation threatens to escalate beyond control, as a single madman with a gun and a hand grenade squares off against the police. The culprit is ready to blow everything to smithereens, when Inspector Chan arrives and diffuses the situation, without any loss of human life.
Chan is a good commander, and he tries to teach his men to always be at the top of their game when theyre on the job. Little does he know that his own game is about to be tested in a very real, very unpleasant way.
A band of young thieves take down a large bank and during the robbery they call the police to taunt them. When the police force arrives at the scene, the thieves whip out their assault rifles and shoot down the cops in cold blood. Then they flee.
Inspector Chan goes on TV and assures everybody that the thieves will be caught in a matter of hours. Later that day, courtesy of an informant, Chan and his unit arrive at the thieves hideout. But theyre stepping right into a trap. The place is a labyrinth, rigged as a giant video game, and one by one the cops are taken out by the gang. Chan must watch helplessly as his team is brutally slaughtered by the carefree thieves.
And that brings us full circle back to the gutter. To the unconscious Chan, and the young cop Frank (Nicholas Tse) who finds him there, and for some reason thinks hes worth saving.
Frank convinces Chan to clean up and return to the force, so he can finish the case he started. The thieves are still at large, and still unpunished, but thats about to change as Chan and his new-found partner gear up for one final round of a very dangerous game.
Man, this movie looks amazing! The most gorgeous looking Hong Kong film Ive seen in a long time. Im sure it cost a gazillion bucks, but rest assured that every penny is up there on the screen. Wow, Ill say, and raise you another wow!
With any Jackie Chan movie the first question that raises itself always seems to be: What are the stunts like? Has he come up with something truly unique again? Well, New Police Story doesnt really have any of those death defying high-concept stunts, but in truth those scenes never made much sense anyway. This time the story and the locations dictate the stunts and not the other way around. For this very reason the stunts, and the action scenes as a whole, are very well integrated into the story.
The most amazing sequence of them all, a chase after one of the bad guys, takes us from a rooftop high up in the sky, down the side of the building, to the top of a city bus, which proceeds to tear up half the city, before it heads for the harbor. Hong Kong action cinema at its best.
Jackie Chans schtick has always been his mix of humor and action, and sure enough we get some funny moments here too, but unlike his previous efforts the humor doesnt take centre stage.
New Police Story is a tour-de-force technical achievement.
Just take the sound design, for example. It is truly vibrant, and can easily match anything Jerry Bruckheimer and his Hollywood sound editors can come up with. The sound of gunfire is especially impressive, blasting out from all speakers in glorious DTS sound, giving the viewer an all too real impression of how it must feel to be caught in the middle of an actual shootout. It may seem trivial to describe the sound of gunfire, not exactly a new invention in Hong Kong cinema, but that should tell you something about the quality of the work here.
And dont get me started on the cinematography. Shot in glorious 2,35:1 widescreen format, the images are razor-sharp and capture the high-tech buildings and modern-day Hong Kong with crystal clarity.
The visual effects are also amazing. Hong Kong action directors are much more restrained than their American counterparts, when it comes to the use of digital effects. This is probably largely due to the lack of funds, but the result is a film that never suffers from effect overload, the way most American action film do these days.
Lets be fair. Jackie Chans major force has always been the stunts, while the acting came a distant second (if at all). Over the years weve had to endure some pretty painful performances, to get to the good stuff. But New Police Story sees Jackie play better than he has in many years. Its been a while since hes had a crack at a character that had a background, much less one as well-established as this one. Its nice to see that he hasnt completely forgotten how to act.
Nicholas Tse takes a step back from the limelight, to play second fiddle to Jackies seasoned cop. Tse clearly relishes the fact that he doesnt have to carry the whole film by himself. He seems to have a lot a fun with a part that pegs him as the insecure partner, who has taken it upon himself to get Chans life back on track. He even gets to play matchmaker to Chan! Hes got that cheeky smile on his face throughout the whole film, but thats exactly what I like about him. Just what the doctor ordered to wash away that dreadful Moving Targets
Daniel Wu stars as the leader of the thieves, and even though he still looks like hes eleven, hes nonetheless genuinely creepy. More surprisingly, the filmmakers have actually bothered to give him a decent background and a motive. Its not much, but its there, and thats what counts. When he jumps around taunting Chan, its even more upsetting when you know the reason behind it.
That was a little something for the girls, but us guys have to make do with what is basically an extended cameo from one half of the Twins duo, Charlene Choi as a cheeky cop who help Chan and Frank. She overplays so much that it seems everybody else comes to a standstill whenever shes on screen. Shes an acquired taste, if I ever saw one, but don't worry. Shes only featured in a handful of scenes.
What a welcome return to form! What a relief!
Even though the story is a tad unfocused (some subplots simply vaporises along the way), the core of New Police Story - a disgraced cop who gets one final chance to redeem himself - is solid enough, and feels like one of those classic Hong Kong movies we havent seen in a decade.
At the center of this we find good old Jackie Chan. And hes still got it. Ive enjoyed some of Jackies American films, but the overall quality of his output has severely dropped in the last decade. His eagerness to make everything politically correct and unbloody has all but turned him into a joke. So New Police Story comes along at a crucial point to save his skin. It wont go down in history as a classic, but its a step in the right direction. It prove the magic is still there. That hes still got that thang. That unmistakable touch that made him a star in the first place.
In short, Jackies back with a vengeance. Hes got a handful of lollypops and a can of whoop ass for you, but guess what... he just ran out of lollypops.