Holy crap. That’s about all I can muster in response to Police Story, my first full experience with a Jackie Chan directed movie. Chan’s athleticism combined with his eye for directing action compositions makes for some the of most outlandishly cool fight choreographies ever caught on celluloid. The fluidity of each blow and movement, the constant manic use of improvisation, and the insane stunts all culminate in a film that feels as though it only could have come from one man. That’s the incredible thing about these truly gifted actor, martial artist combos, the feats we witness simply cannot be faked.
Police Story follows Ka-Kui, a Hong Kong police officer who must protect Selena Fong, a witness in an ongoing investigation. There are a few twists and turns involving corrupt cops, framings, and the typical genre plot points, but the real selling point is the wholly unique action set pieces. The most non-traditional aspect of the plot is the weird amalgamation of cop tropes that make up Ka-Kui. He’s a bumbling goof, but also an unstoppable bruiser who is the right man for the job during a brawl or car chase. By the end, he’s even got some serious Dirty Harry vibes. Somehow, Chan’s charismatic performance ties these disparate parts together, simultaneously lending legitimacy to sequences like when he (unsuccessfully) tries to dupe his girlfriend, as well as when he goes completely rogue.
Still, the main selling point is the action, which easily picks up the slack in all other departments. Cars careen down a hilly shanty town, leaving an avalanche of debris and explosions in their wake as they tear through the litany of hastily constructed structures. Chan drags himself onto a moving bus, using nothing but an umbrella, deflecting blows and avoiding oncoming traffic. People are launched into glass, dropkicked through car windows, and generally pummeled in a flurry of blows. The villainous mobsters, and Chan himself, are flung through a mall in ways that seem like they should be causing permanent bodily harm. There is one shot of our protagonist making use of an impromptu fireman’s pole that is repeated not twice, but three times, but it’s so damn impressive that it somehow doesn’t feel gratuitous.
The violence may be slapstick compared to its grimy contemporaries like The Raid, but it’s relative quaintness doesn’t undermine the incredible feats that we see performed. Simple acts like jumping over a fence are lent a sort balletic grace, as if they were natural extensions of Chan’s martial arts. The comedy bits fit into these displays of athletic poise quite well, the juxtaposition all too clear. It has now become very clear that I have to catch up on some Jackie Chan.
Image source: Forgotten Flixs