Police Story Review

Police Story (1985)
Directed by Jackie Chan

One of two Jackie Chan films to make my list, Police Story is the fullest expression of everything that Jackie Chan brings to the medium of film. As it is with the Marx Brothers, Jackie Chan films (and martial arts films in general) exist with completely different expectations and standards than other films. If you’re looking for the film that best represents Jackie Chan’s unique cinematic vision, then you should look no further than 1985’s Police Story.

Doing its part to usher in a new golden age of Hong Kong cinema, Jackie Chan’s Police Story is the prototype and model for contemporary martial arts police films. While the plot is conventional and filled with holes, it’s the revolution in tone and action that sets this film apart.
The film opens with an incredible shootout and car chase that destroys an entire slum built on a hillside (that has been copied in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II), which showcases Chan’s willingness to obliterate the scale and intensity of other action films. To follow it up Chan chases the bad guys while hanging onto the sides of a moving bus (with an umbrella) the bus turns corners and oncoming cars fly by! What makes the action so fresh is the obvious risk in the stunts. When Chan is hanging off the back of a bus with an umbrella, there are no wires, no pads, and no stunt doubles; this is hardcore commitment.

That tone is throughout the entire film. In the first martial arts sequence, Chan doesn’t just merely fight around cars, he and his stunt team absolutely demolish them as their bodies smash through windows and bust off doors. If that wasn’t enough, Chan creates a ten minute finale in a shopping mall that literally dropped my jaw the first time I saw it. It was then and still is now, one of the most incredible action sequences ever filmed.

Chan and his team fight throughout the mall falling down escalators, falling off several stories to the floor, demolishing every glass case in sight, and finally sliding down an electrified pole from the ceiling to the floor. While the martial arts in this sequence isn’t as technical as his other films, there is a brutality and quickness to it all that outranks nearly everything you’ve ever seen.

Of course, action alone doesn’t make a Jackie Chan film. No Jackie Chan film would be complete without his particular touches, and Police Story has them all. Cases of mistaken identities, practical pranks, and hitting on women are all played for laughs. Jackie also gets the chance for his special brand of urban climbing (the man is one of the best at parkour before anyone recognized it), and for his own personality quirks (he gets to do the moonwalk in funny touch). Also found here are all the pratfalls and comedy setups that have come to epitomize Jackie Chan films (there is a hilarious multiple phone gag in this one)

There are Jackie Chan films with better plots (New Police Story), better action sequences (Legend of Drunken Master), better prop fights (First Strike), but this film literally has it all. Most Americans only know Chan from his Rush Hour series or his Shanghai series and those contains some good Chan stuff within a Hollywood context. However, if you want to see the action film as Jackie Chan sees it (without Hollywood strings), then this is the film to watch.

Enjoy the entire Mall Fight sequence below. Let me know what you think.

Here is the bus sequence I described above. Enjoy!