The film that elevated Jackie Chan from martial arts star to international superstar remains one of his best, even in the truncated, obnoxiously dubbed version available in the US.
The Hong Kong police put together a complex operation to bring down Tom Ku (Cho Yuen), one of the area's most powerful drug lords. When the operation goes awry, officer Kevin Chan (Jackie Chan) chases the escaping bad guys and brings them in. He also captures a reluctant witness, Ku's secretary,
Salina Fong (Brigitte Lin). Kevin is assigned to protect Salina, and after staging a mock attempt on her life to persuade her of the danger she is in, takes her to his apartment, not knowing that his long-suffering girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung), has planned a surprise birthday party for him.
On the day of the trial, Salina disappears, and although Kevin plays a tape of her speaking, Ku is released for lack of evidence. Kevin is lured into a trap by Inspector Man, a cop who is secretly working for Ku. The gangsters kill Man with Kevin's gun, leaving him to be arrested for murder.
Evading the police, Kevin persuades Salina that she cannot trust Ku and has her break into his computer for evidence that can be used against him. Ku and his men spot Kevin and May in a shopping mall waiting for Salina. After a spectacular fight, the police arrive to arrest Ku and his gang. When
it looks as though Ku's lawyer may get him off again, Kevin beats them both senseless. Having sufficient evidence to convince Ku, Kevin's superiors agree not to mention the beating in their report.
Shorn of nearly 20 minutes of (mostly comic) scenes, POLICE FORCE may lack some of the charm of POLICE STORY (the title of the original Hong Kong version). But it does condense the film into nearly non-stop action of a kind seldom--if ever--seen in American films. That's largely because Chan,
accompanied by his hand-picked stunt team, does all of his own scenes and takes pride in making them as spectacular as possible. (Union and insurance restrictions would never allow this kind of filmmaking in the US.) This film also marked Chan's move away from martial arts, although that remains a
staple of all of his films, to action stunts, thus expanding his audience. And even his fight scenes expand significantly upon the standard display of this or that ancient technique, with Chan using scenery and props in wonderfully inventive ways.
Among the highlights of POLICE FORCE are a car chase down a hillside and through (literally) a shantytown; Chan catching a speeding bus with an umbrella handle (watch for the unlucky stuntmen at the climax of the scene who are ejected from the bus' front window onto the ground: they were supposed
to land on a specially padded surface but missed--ouch!); and the shopping mall finale, which makes you wish you owned stock in a glass factory.
Making all of this palatable to international audiences is Chan's infectious personality. He may not be a great actor, but he is a wonderfully likable screen presence--graceful, athletic and energetic--who realizes that audiences like heroes best when they can see their weaknesses. Thus Chan
always takes worse than he receives, both from the bad guys and the good (it's always fun to see him getting hell from his girlfriend, played by the lovely Maggie Cheung). Three sequels have been made: POLICE STORY II, POLICE STORY III (released in the US as SUPERCOP) and POLICE STORY IV (released
in the US as FIRST STRIKE). Chan's CRIME STORY was released in some areas as POLICE STORY IV, but is not part of the series. (Violence, nudity.)
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: NR
- Review: The film that elevated Jackie Chan from martial arts star to international superstar remains one of his best, even in the truncated, obnoxiously dubbed version available in the US. The Hong Kong police put together a complex operation to bring down Tom K… (more)