Movies We Like
If we lived in a perfect world, Police Story would be the archetypal action film all other action films would emulate. But the world is imperfect and most action films are bloated, $100 million plus productions filled with bad dialogue, aging stars, poorly choreographed fights, and CGI removing any semblance of real threat or excitement. And yet, Police Story is almost thirty years old and still excites in the way action movies should.
Police Story doesn’t wait around to give you tons of unnecessary exposition. Right from the start, it spends only a few minutes establishing who the bad guys are, why the cops are after them, and Chan Ka-Kui's (played by Jackie Chan, also the film’s director) moralistic view of his job. And right when they give you just enough info to get involved in the story, you’re treated to a gunfight followed by cars driving through and destroying an entire shanty town followed by Chan Ka-Kui chasing a bus being held hostage by the escaping villains.
Jackie Chan has now become the sanitized, inoffensive star of Rush Hour, The Karate Kid, and The Spy Next Door, but Police Story comes at the peak of his creative powers in the Hong Kong film industry. Having started off as a star of kung fu films, Jackie Chan found footing in action-comedy. But it was when he started directing his own material that he created the image he has today of the comic foil who can jump into action at any given moment; Bruce Lee by way of Buster Keaton. His style of action was revolutionary too, mixing frenetic, quick paced fight scenes with real (and very dangerous) stunts. But unlike Bruce Lee, Chan is always to happy to show you pain. In Police Story, he gets beaten, hit by cars, slammed head first into glass -- it’s relentless! Add some slapsticky silliness to the fights and you get the best of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong films.
Old slapstick gags also feel as valued as a kick in the face. When Chan Ka-Kui brings home an attractive, half-dressed witness he’s protecting to his place, his girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung), slams him in the face with a cake. When he keeps making a fool of himself, he gets cake on his mug two other times. This is the stuff of old vaudeville routines, but it fits just fine in the world of Police Story.
Police Story is the apex of the type of action film Jackie Chan was good at. He’s a charming, good looking guy who often makes a fool of himself, but lives with a code of ethics and won’t stop until he triumphs. He made several of these types of films (including two direct sequels to Police Story) and would win the Best Picture at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards for Police Story. It’s humanistic action cinema with well-liked characters and guerilla level stunts that will make you want to watch more.