New Police Story
Jackie Chan does a lot of
crying in New Police Story. He (as Kwok-wing) sobs after his miserable
fall from glory as a cop, and he weeps over his friends killed in the line of
duty. He even cries (and this is rarer for Chan’s star persona) as he professes
his love to a girlfriend, Ho-yee (Charlie Yeung) – particularly since, at that
moment, she is strapped to a bomb about to explode.
This film marks a return to
the Police Story series that, kicking off in 1985, added a lucrative
formula to Chan’s already stellar career. Although there are the expected
laughs, goofy outtakes under the final credits and dazzling martial arts
displays, the Police Story films lean more towards busy plotlines,
action scenes centred on guns and bombs, and many opportunities for Chan to
But today, any film in this
vein must compete with the impressive standard set by director Johnnie To in
films including Running Out of Time (1999) and Breaking News (2004).
So New Police Story is an ambitious urban panorama, featuring a team of
villains that treat reality like one enormous video game – the goal of which is
to eliminate as many cops as possible.
The criminal mastermind Joe
Kwan (Daniel Wu), like his cohorts, is a rather infantile character – a rich
kid still wrestling with unresolved parent issues. As a more positive
comparison, Kwok-wing is given his own son-figure to manage, in the form of
rookie cop Cheng Siu-fung (Nicholas Tse). The parallelism between these good
and bad family units is handled smartly by director Benny Chan (who co-helmed Who
Am I?  with Jackie, and died at age 58 in 2020).
Jackie Chan has never been
able to resist Chaplin-style pathos, and so he begins New Police Story at Kwok-wing’s lowest point, drowning in booze and suffering nightmarish
flashbacks, then slowly piecing himself together (with one delightful nod to
the 1978 martial arts classic Drunken Master). The slow-motion sequences
that are meant to tug at our heartstrings, set to a booming Carl Orff-style
score by Tommy Wai, become rather tedious.
But in its second hour, the
film really takes off. The action set-pieces make inventive use of vast
locations (a building top used by skaters, a toy store, a bus route) and, in
the best Chan style, become progressively more hair-raising.
By the time it winds down, New
Police Story has become a rousing entertainment – certainly among the best
that Chan has made in the 21st century.
© Adrian Martin November 2005