35 Years Later: Revisiting Police Story 警察故事 (1985)

For decades, Jackie Chan has made six Police Story <警察故事> movies including sequels (1988’s Police Story 2 <警察故事續集>, 1992’s Police Story 3: Super Cop <警察故事III超級警察> and 1996’s Police Story 4: First Strike <警察故事4之簡單任務>) and reboots (2004’s New Police Story <新警察故事> and 2013’s Police Story 2013 <警察故事2013>). If that’s not enough, he is set to return to the franchise tentatively titled Police Story 2022 <警察故事 2022>, which would see him reuniting with his Bleeding Steel <機器之血> director Leo Zhang.

And yet, none of them can’t hold a candle to his first Police Story <警察故事>, which was released 35 years ago back in December 14, 1985.  It also happened to be Jackie’s banner year, with four of his movies — My Lucky Stars <福星高照> (HK$30.7 million), Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars <夏日福星> (HK$28.9 million), Heart Of The Dragon <龍的心> (HK$20.3 million) and Police Story <警察故事> (HK$26.6 million) — all became box office hits in Hong Kong.

The only exception was The Protector  <威龍猛探>, which failed to make an impact in both US and Hong Kong box office. The huge financial disappointment, coupled with Jackie’s failure to penetrate the American film market, prompted the star to direct Police Story <警察故事> as a result. The rest, as they say, is history.

Never mind the fact that Jackie Chan and Edward Tang’s screenplay is basically nothing more than your usual cop vs. criminals formula: Jackie plays Chan Ka-Kui, a hotshot police officer determines to bring down the wanted drug lord Chu Tou (Chor Yuen) and his men. He manages to arrest him at the beginning, only to have Chu Tou subsequently released on bail after Ka-Kui’s audio taped evidence from Chu Tou’s secretary, Selina Fong (Brigitte Lin) ends up accidentally tampered.

With Chu Tou back on the streets again, he devises a plan and have his right-hand man, Danny Koo (Fung Hak-On) to frame Ka-Kui for the murder of a corrupted police officer. In order to clear his name, Ka-Kui relies on Selina to gain evidence from Chu Tou’s office computer and stop them once and for all.

The story may take a backseat in this movie, with the redeeming factor mostly goes to the extended comedy moments involving Ka-Kui, Selina and his girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung). What matters the most is how insane and committed Jackie and his stunt team risking their lives to make Police Story <警察故事> as visceral as possible.

Having revisited Police Story <警察故事> recently, the sheer impact of the movie still delivers in terms of its action and stunts. The kind that they don’t make them like they used to in today’s Hong Kong cinema. He really went all out in the name of entertainment, as evidently seen during the memorable opening set-piece alone. Lasting around 15 minutes, the elaborate sequence is akin to watching a climactic finale, as we witness Ka-Kui chases the escaped criminals in a daring car chase down the hillside and through the shanty town — a stunt that can be seen in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II (2003) eighteen years later. Jackie even continues the scene further with a foot chase where he catches the speeding double-decker bus using a civilian’s umbrella.

While there are some minor fights in the middle part of the movie, it wasn’t until the elaborate shopping mall-set ending (filmed in location at Tsim Sha Tsui East’s Wing On Plaza) saw Ka-Kui single-handedly take down Chu Tou and his men. The fights are both brutal and violent while making good use of sugar glass throughout the scene. Then, there’s the death-defying stunt towards the end — a one-take scene where Jackie slides down the light bulbs-covered pole from few floors above. It was an incredible moment that he ended up suffering from palm burns, back injury and even dislocated his pelvis.

Acting-wise, Jackie delivers an engaging presence to his iconic role of Chan Ka-Kui while screen veteran Chor Yuen is perfectly typecast as Chu Tou. Bill Tung brings solid support in his comic-relief turn as Ka-Kui’s superior while kudos also go to Brigitte Lin and Maggie Cheung.

Police Story <警察故事> was also remembered for its notable wins at the 5th Hong Kong Film Awards, where the movie took home Best Film and Best Action Choreography.


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