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New Police Story
cast: Jackie Chan, Deep Ng, Charlie Young, Daniel Wu, and Nicholas Tse

producer and director: Benny Chan

122 minutes (15) 2004
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail
[released 5 February]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
Jackie Chan (do I need to list his movie credits?) has expressed a desire to move away from comedies, actioners, and comedy-actioners, and into drama, and one suspects that this feature, New Police Story (aka: San ging chaat goo si), is an attempt to warm up before flexing his acting muscles. On the extras disc, director Benny Chan (Rob-B-Hood, Who Am I?), over a clip of Jackie crying, says that this is what Jackie likes doing best, and he gets to do a lot of it, but that and steely determination is pretty much the range of acting on show here. No one can blame Chan for looking to extend his range, he's 50 now and still doing a lot of his own stunts, the clock must be ticking; in the meantime forget own-stunt wannabes like pocket scientologist Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan is the real deal.

Jackie is Chan-Kwok Wing a senior inspector in the Hong Kong Police, when we first see him he is falling down drunk and an extended flashback sequence tells us how he arrived in this sorry condition. After foiling a hostage situation we meet Wing and his youthful team in a debrief where his fiancée helps his colleagues take a rise out of him, her younger brother is one of Wing's subordinates, and the cocky arrogance of the team Wing has assembled goes some way to alert us to what will follow.

An athletic and daring gang of flamboyantly masked youths audaciously hold-up one of the city's major banks and lay waste to the police response units with automatic weapons; they boast about earning points for killing various ranks of police officer and clearly the whole enterprise is part of some deadly game. Wing announces on national TV that he is about to bring the gang to justice and following this launches a raid on an industrial unit at the head of his young team.

The police raid on the gang HQ is probably the weakest part of this film in that it is so amateurish that even the charge of arrogance made against Wing by one of his superiors cannot explain it. The cops arrive in a van, bareheaded, and wearing the little bullet-proof waistcoats first seen in Z-Cars in the 1960s; there is no kevlar or helmets, clearly so we can see the young policemen's anguished faces as the shit hits the fan. The ludicrously under-prepared task force are armed with shotguns; Wing carries an automatic, despite the bank raid showing that the gang are heavily armed with military gauge automatic weapons. The whole of Wing's force enters the building, there is no attempt to watch the 'back door', and no contact with or mention of backup. Once inside, the team is run around an elaborate maze and picked off one-by-one; their entrapment is being filmed for an online arcade game. When he is the last one left Wing comes upon a dreadful scene that plays out like a torture routine from a horror movie, albeit with a 15 certificate. To save his men, hanging from the roof, Wing must play games against members of the gang, field-stripping his sidearm and engaging in a kung-fu bout; Wing loses, his men plunge to the concrete floor and a bomb is detonated to finish them all off, only Wing survives.

Taking up the narrative again, Wing is on a 12-month period of leave and has taken the opportunity to drink himself stupid. He is picked out of the gutter by Frank Cheng (Nicholas Tse, Rob-B-Hood), who claims to be his new partner, and says that Wing's leave has been cancelled so that he can rejoin the case. Cheng is not all he seems but dedicates himself to getting Wing's life back in order, including reconciliation with his girlfriend; gradually they begin to hunt down the gang.

After a poor start, and having to weather Jackie's continual tearful breakdowns, this movie gives itself a shake and develops into a watchable little thriller. Police procedural is minimal; the gang is identified so easily one wonders if the whole of the Hong Kong force hasn't crawled into a bottle. Nicholas Tse is such an attractive presence on the screen, in his 'mod' duster coat, that he gives his scenes with Jackie the fizz that the mashed-potato face of the latter can't generate; Charlene Choi (Twins Mission) as tech support officer SaSa is a pert treat as well. The gang comes over like the kind of shiftless counterculture killers 'Dirty Harry' might have faced, but there is a largely successful attempt to give their leader, Joe (Daniel Wu, Around The World In 80 Days), a convincing motivating back story. As regards the action, there is an entertaining runaway bus, and a good fight in the Legoland ball-pool.

has some rather subdued extras. There are promotional trailers, standalone interviews with cast and director and a couple of making-of features. The Making Of New Police Story is a chance for cast and crew to discuss the story and their individual roles against various explanatory clips; Behind The Scenes is a commentary-free look at some of the scenes and set-pieces from the movie, offering different camera angles, unused footage and the technical background and set-ups for sequences such as Jackie bus-surfing, and Jackie and Nicholas abseiling down the office building.

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