(Hong Kong, 1985)
Directed by Jackie Chan
Review by Angus Luff
Police Story is a 1985 Hong Kong action-comedy film directed by Jackie Chan. Hard-working police officer Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan) successfully captures drug lord Chu Tao (Yuen Chor). But when Ka Kui is framed for the murder of another cop by Tao, he must prove his innocence and protect his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) and the boss’s secretary Selena (Brigette Lin).
Jackie Chan is beloved across the world, not only for his comically flavoured action/adventure films in different languages and countries but also for the way he commits to entertain and excite an audience. Jackie Chan does martial arts and performs his own stunts and fight scenes. Throughout his more than 50-year career, he has broken many bones and has hurt himself in so many ways, just to provide a death-defying, adrenaline-pumping stunt to make the film more exhilarating and enjoyable.
Chan has an intense and visceral screen presence; it’s hard to keep your eyes off him. Whether he’s being funny and providing excellent slapstick comedy or fighting off three or more people with nothing but coat hangers and ladders, he always finds something inventive to throw at a film. His films can be hilarious and intense at the same time; something really special happens when intense action is mixed with comedy in Jackie’s films.
Police Story is perhaps his most well-known and acclaimed film, for good reason. The film is always enjoyable to watch. Even when insanely spectacular, brain-meltingly fast fight sequences are not flashing before your eyes, the film still drives along fast enough not to get bogged down in the “boring” plot that strings together the action sequences.
The way the film is framed feels like a breath of fresh air for North America, as Chan more often chooses to show the choreographed fights in wide shots rather than constantly cutting and shooting in close-up with too many angles. The jaw-dropping fight you’re witnessing gets to sink in as you process everything. Chan knows how to shoot a stunt or fight, and I think North American directors could potentially learn a lesson from Chan in how to make a fight scene feel impactful.
The way the fights and stunts are mixed with comedy feels like a careful artform that is being perfected right before your eyes. The film is a balancing act of comedy and action that somehow mixes the two as one. In many of Chan’s films, including the Police Story films, comedy is action, and the way he explores that is unique and still funny and exciting today.
The end credits in many Jackie Chan’s films show outtakes or behind-the-scenes footage of Chan directing, choreographing and attempting the stunts in the film. These credits summarize why the films are special. You get a look at how the movie you just saw was made, and it looks like people taking chances, hurting themselves and risking their lives for the sake of art and entertainment, which makes Chan an inspiration. He risks himself for the power of cinema and movie magic. He is committed to entertaining and inspiring. As you watch the credits for Police Story while listening to the musical theme featuring Chan singing, his pure enthusiasm for the artform rubs off on you.
I purposely chose not to reveal too much of the content of the film, so if you are not familiar with these Hong Kong Jackie Chan films, the movie will have an even greater impact. If you’ve never seen Police Story, and you’re familiar with contemporary American action movies, this film is a big treat.
Running time: 100 mins
Available to stream on
Criterion Channel and Crave
Available to rent on Apple TV
Angus Luff is a student at Glebe Collegiate. He grew up in the Glebe and is obsessed with movies.