|Director: Jackie Chan|
|Screenplay: Jackie Chan & Edward Tang|
|Stars: Jackie Chan (Chan Ka Kui), Maggie Cheung (May), Kwok-Hung Lam (Supt. Raymond Li), Bill Tung (Bill Wong), Keung-Kuen Lai (Deaf Criminal), John Cheung (Cheung), Charlie Cho (John Ko), Yuen Chor (Mr. Chu), Ben Lam (Tall Pau), Chi Fai Chan (Ngor), Shan Kwan (President Fung), Mars (Kim), Isabella Wong (Secretary of President Fung)|
|MPAA Rating: PG-13|
|Year of Release: 1988|
|Country: Hong Kong|
In Police Story (Ging chaat goo si, 1985), actor/producer/writer/director/choreographer Jackie Chan established a new bar for a new genre—the kung fu police comedy—so it is only right that he topped that bar himself with its sequel, Police Story 2 (Ging chaat goo si juk jaap), which picks up right where the first film left off and features a roster of familiar faces. Chan once again plays Chan Ka-Kui, a well-meaning Hong Kong police officer who busted the bad guys at the end of the first movie, but caused a great deal of damage in the process, which is why he has now been demoted by his superior, Supt. Raymond Li (Kwok-Hung Lam), to directed traffic. Ka-Kui seems to have patched things up with his long-suffering girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung), who is quite understanding of his antics—until she isn’t, at which point she loses it and lets him have it. But that isn’t until he leaves her on the tarmac to investigate a series of bombings—but, hey, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
The real inciting incident in Police Story 2 is the return of Mr. Chu (Yuen Chor), the crime lord Ka-Kui sent to prison in the first film. He shows up early on, having been given compassionate release because he is terminally ill and has only three months left to live. He is not so ill, however, that he can’t invest all his remaining time and energy in harassing Ka-Kui and trying to goad him into a fight, primarily through the use of his sniveling righthand man John Ko (Charlie Cho). They finally manage to push Ka-Kui too far at a park by threatening May, which sets off the first of the film’s spectacular fight sequences, this one employing slides, monkey bars, climbing towers, and other playground equipment in all kinds of humorously clever ways.
Disgusted with himself, Ka-Kui quits the police, much to May’s delight, which is why they end up on a plane about to leave for a vacation. But, then Supt. Li and Ka-Kui’s uncle Bill Wong (Bill Tung) convince him to get off and help them investigate a series of bombings that are being used to extort a wealthy businessman, and next thing you know he’s right back in the thick of things—which is, of course, where he belongs. While Police Story climaxed with an over-the-top brawl at a shopping mall, Police Story 2 stages its climactic fisticuffs in a deserted multi-story warehouse, which allows Chan and his talented crew of stunt artists to perform all manner of gymnastic kung fu moves in and around staircases, railings, stacks of barrels, and heavy machinery. It is, not surprisingly, a bravura set-piece of action choreography that is as fast as it is funny, giving us a sense of almost impossible physicality that looks like some mad merging of Fred Astaire and Bruce Lee that feels effortless even though we know better.
Chan the superstar leaves it all on the celluloid when it comes to the action sequences, and the palpability of the physical danger in which he constantly puts himself gives the comedy the kind of delirious edge that Buster Keaton made famous in the silent era. Chan is no egoist, though, and part of the film’s pleasure is the way he makes his character a target for numerous jokes, including an extended gag in which May berates him for leaving her on the plane, following him into a men’s locker room where she is completely nonplussed by all the naked men showering around them (Ka-Kui clearly is, though). Chan has such a genuine, likable screen presence that it still registers as a pleasant surprise when he suddenly starts taking down bad guys; someone this fundamentally nice shouldn’t also be so adept with physical violence (the English language title of his late ’90s films Mr. Nice Guy could be the title for most of his films). And yet he is, and the dexterity of not just Chan’s physicality, but his balancing of comedy and suspense and violence and intrigue is what makes his films so consistently enjoyable.
|Police Story / Police Story 2 Criterion Collection Blu-ray 2-Disc Set|
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 (both films)|
|Audio||Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround (both films)Cantonese Linear PCM 1.0 monaural (both films)English Linear PCM 1.0 monaural (both films)|
|Supplements||Police Story discExcerpts from Jackie Chan: My Stunts (1999) documentary Video interview with filmmaker Edgar Wright The Talkhouse Podcast episode in which Wright interviews Chan“Becoming Jackie” video interview with New York Asian Film Festival founder Grady HendrixSegment from 2017 television program in which Chan is reunited with members of the Jackie Chan Stunt TeamArchival video interview with ChanOriginal theatrical and Japanese re-release trailersPolice Story 2 discAlternate Hong Kong theatrical release version of the film1989 episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show about Chan“Reinventing Action” video interview with New York Asian Film Festival founder Grady HendrixArchival interview with stuntman Benny Lai1964 episode of French television program Edition spéciale about the Beijing OperaStunt reelTrailer|
|Distributor||The Criterion Collection|
|Release Date||April 30, 2019|
|Both Police Story and Police Story 2 look excellent. The films have been given new 4K restorations that started with scans of the original 35mm camera negatives (the liner notes don’t indicate any specific digital restoration, but some was clearly done). Both films look clean and clear, with great, popping colors, strong detail, and a nice filmlike presence that a slight softness that we often associate with the era. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the two films visually, although Police Story 2 is perhaps just a bit more sophisticated in its camerawork. Because both films were shot silently, they have a wide array of optional soundtracks, and Criterion had to get pretty creative in their sourcing to include what they did. Both films feature the original monaural soundtracks in Cantonese; the track for Police Story was transferred from an original soundtrack negative, while the track for Police Story 2 was taken from a Japanese laserdisc. Both films also feature alternate English dubbed tracks, from a Dutch VHS tape and the Japanese laserdisc, respectively. Both films also feature newly mixed 5.1-channel surround soundtracks in Cantonese that were provided by Fortune Star Media Limited, the company that also provided the video transfers. Personally, I would stick with the original Cantonese monaural tracks because they are more true to the original experience of the films. The 5.1-channel tracks are fine, but they are sometimes stretched too thin. I should also note that Criterion has included an alternate, shorter version of Police Story 2 that was released theatrically in Hong Kong. It was transferred in 2K from a subtitled 35mm print and given only minimal restoration, which shows in comparison to the longer version.|
In terms of supplements, Criterion has been extremely thorough, producing both a host of new extras along with copious material from the archives, some of which has appeared in previous releases. The Police Story disc opens with 45 minutes of excerpts from Jackie Chan: My Stunts, a 1999 video documentary in which Chan revisits the most elaborate stunts in his films and shows how they were done. There is also an undated archival video interview with Chan, which looks to have been recorded sometime in the 1990s. From more recent events we get a segment from a 2017 television program The Kings vs. The Kings II in which Chan is reunited with multiple generations of members of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team during a surprise 40th anniversary reunion and performs the Police Story theme song onstage. It is a genuinely heartfelt reunion that brings tears to Chan’s eyes, and it is clear that those who worked with him admire him greatly (they all call him “Big Brother”). Among Chan’s biggest fans is filmmaker Edgar Wright, and Criterion recorded a new interview with him enthusing about Chan’s work and an October 2017 episode of The Talkhouse Podcast in which Wright interviews Chan. There is also a new video interview with New York Asian Film Festival founder Grady Hendrix titled “Becoming Jackie,” in which he discusses Chan’s early years and how he developed his star persona in the shadow of Bruce Lee. Finally, we get the original theatrical trailer and a Japanese re-release trailer.
Switching over to the Police Story 2 disc, we start with a nearly hourlong episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show hosted by Jonathan Ross, which originally aired in September 1989. It includes footage from many of Chan’s films, an interview with Chan in front of a Movieola where he discusses some of his most famous stunts, and footage from the set of his then-newest film Mr. Canton and Lady Rose. There is also an undated video interview with stuntman Benny Lai, a member of the Jackie Chan stunt team; a 1964 episode of the French television program Edition spéciale about the training of the performers in the Beijing Opera; an undated stunt reel consisting of bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage; and an original theatrical trailer. The only new supplement is a second interview with New York Asian Film Festival founder Grady Hendrix, who discusses how Chan’s action style and choreography helped to reinvent the notion of what a Hong Kong action movie could be.
Copyright © 2019 James Kendrick
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