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Crime Story
cast: Jackie Chan, Kent Cheng, Fat Chung, Christine Ng, and Law Hang-kang

director: Kirk Wong

102 minutes (18) 1993
widescreen ratio 16:9
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield
Widely acknowledged as Jackie Chan's toughest thriller and most dramatic acting role to date, Crime Story is based on a true story about the kidnapping of Asian tycoon Teddy Wang. Despite several plot deviations from reported fact (in real life the victim was said to have been drowned by his panicking captors when their ship was intercepted by the Chinese coastguard); this is an intense and riveting film drama, a decidedly masculine police procedural (though with its share of car chases) that's strikingly similar in tone to Japan's popular yakuza thrillers, and is much grittier than anything else that Chan has ever done.
   As Inspector Eddie Chan, our star gets a rare chance to display real emotional depth, albeit in the guise of a super-heroic cop and, in this, Crime Story rivals the high impact style of Hollywood productions like Ron Howard's Ransom (1996), and Michael Mann's Heat (1995). Yes, folks, this really is that good! Although it has some tongue-in-cheek use of primary colours, classy direction by the wholly underrated Kirk Wong, who later made Rock 'n' Roll Cop (1994) and The Big Hit (1998), delivers the goods. There's atmospheric lighting and stylish camerawork throughout kidnap and ransom drop clichés, police corruption intrigue, dynamic gunplay sequences, and the hero's moral angst when faced with betrayal, failure, and a decidedly ruthless Machiavellian adversary.
   Only one scene towards the end of the film (at a point when director Wong had left so the star could supervise the finale's kung fu stunts to suit himself) opts for a familiar bit of Chan style acrobatics, but it's really nothing more than a fleeting moment of comedy in a grimly exciting and largely serious film, and will not spoil your enjoyment of the sombre characterisation or hard-edged action. An essential purchase for the superstar's many followers, and all fans of superior Hong Kong cinema, Crime Story is strongly recommended for everyone else, too, especially if you believe martial arts legend Chan can only do cheesy knockabout adventure.
   This superb DVD release has a digitally restored and re-mastered anamorphic transfer, enhanced for widescreen TV, with Dolby digital 5.1 sound in the original Cantonese (with English subtitles) or English dubbed version. Disc extras include filmed interviews with scriptwriter Teddy Chan and action director Bruce Law, a bunch of trailers, and another exceptional, info-blitz commentary by fast-talking Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan - a man who clearly knows his subject well and yet still bothers to do original research before entering the recording studio. Although I have yet to find a better example of how 'expert commentaries' should be done, I do wish they could get Logan to talk just a little bit slower...
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