Peter’s Retro Reviews: Police Story (1985)

August 5, 2013

Police Story movie posterBy Peter Nielsen

The first time I watched Police Story was at a movie-theater in Copenhagen, Denmark! I’m actually pretty pleased with the fact that I did get to catch it on the big screen, because back then martial arts movies and the Swedish censorship mixed like oil and water. This meant that most, or all, of these were never shown in the theaters and was instead released direct to video. In cut versions, of course!

There was actually a time when censorship wasn’t that bad and some of these could still be found intact in some video rental stores, but in the 80’s the sharp scissors of the censors were plentiful and worked overtime. So, I went to Denmark to either watch them in the theater or rent them on VHS when I was staying with my cousins, which was a lot in my teens. I mean, it wasn’t like it was far…

Copenhagen is only a short hour and 45 minutes by train and a 20 minute ferry-ride away, give or take a couple of minutes. At least from where I lived! So you see, going to the movies in another country wasn’t such a big stretch for me.

I remember one time where Michael and I were excited to watch The Name of the Rose, you know… the one from 1986 with Sean Connery and Christian Slater as Franciscan monks? It was released a couple of months earlier in Denmark than in Sweden and we couldn’t wait, so we promptly went to Palads, a movie-theater in Copenhagen, to watch it, and since it was a great movie we were happy that we did!

But, as Joel says… I digress. I’m here to talk about Police Story this week, so here goes…

Stop the bus, pleeeeease!

Stop the bus, pleeeeease!

It’s an action-comedy and a cop-drama with some spectacular fight scenes and stunts, but if you’re at all familiar with the films of Jackie Chan, you know you won’t be disappointed in that department. Police Story starts with a drug-bust going down in a small collection of squatter houses. It goes “slightly” wrong and ends in a big shoot-out and cars going through the small settlement… and when I say through, I mean it literally. The drug lord and his men flee in cars down a hillside, driving through the houses to get away from the police. When the cars are crashed they hi-jack a passing double-decker bus and the chase goes on, because the young police officer Ka Kui (Kevin in the dubbed version) is hot on their tail and is not going to let them get away. After a daring fight onboard the bus, Ka Kui manages to stop it and catch the boss.

Maggie Cheung (left) and Brigitte Lin

Maggie Cheung (left) and Brigitte Lin

The police know they don’t have much to build a case on and are hoping the boss’ secretary Selina will testify against him in court. Ka Kui is assigned to protect her, but since he’s a bit of a bumbling fool around women, she easily fools him. The next day he appears in court without her and since they don’t have a witness, they don’t have a case and the boss makes bail and is set free. He decides to get rid of a few loose ends which include Selina and a dirty cop he’s been paying off for some time. Ka Kui is set up and framed for killing the cop and the boss now thinks he’s more or less in the clear.

He could, of course, not be more wrong because now, more than ever, Ka Kui wants to see him behind bars or severely beat up… whichever comes first!

Jackie Chan means business

Jackie Chan means business

Ka Kui is played by the inimitable Jackie Chan who also directed the movie. When I did my review on Wheels on Meals a while back, I mentioned a bunch of other Jackie Chan movies to check out… and here’s a few more. Mr. Nice Guy, Shanghai Noon and Battle Creek Brawl are all definitely worth a viewing or two.

The secretary, Selina Fong, is played by Brigitte Lin (Chungking Express and many more) and in the role of May, Ka Kui’s girlfriend, you might recognize Maggie Cheung. I say might, because if you’re not into Asian cinema, I suppose you haven’t heard of her. If you’ve watched a lot of Jackie Chan movies though, chances are that you’ve seen her in some of those, because he tends to use a lot of the same people in them, both in front of and behind the camera. At least in his Hong Kong productions! Miss Cheung played May in the first three Police Story films (they’ve made five, as far as I know), but she’s also been in Hero where she starred opposite Jet Li. That’s a great movie, by the way!

Another face you might recognize is the one of Bill Tung! He plays Ka Kui’s superior, Inspector Bill Wong, and continued to play this part in all five of the Police Story films. Funny thing is, he actually played the part of “Uncle Bill” in many movies, just in different variations. If IMDb is to be trusted, he used to be Hong Kong’s best known horserace commentator before going into the movie industry.

Would you like a closer look at our display?

Would you like a closer look at our display?

The action in Police Story is plentiful, but so is the comedy and since Jackie Chan is a fan of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, much of it is of the slapstick variety. One scene even involves the old pie-in-the-face routine! In another funny scene, poor Ka Kui is left in charge of answering the phones at the police station and at the same time trying to eat his lunch. This actually had me laugh out loud, but I think this scene was cut from the original U.S. release unfortunately.

Another thing omitted from the U.S. release was the original score which had Jackie Chan singing the song heard when the end credits are rolling over the out-takes from the movie. He is a trained singer and did this on a bunch of his movies, but it was never heard in the dubbed U.S. releases.

As I mentioned earlier, the stunts and fight scenes in Police Story are amazing and the end sequence at the mall in particular is outstanding and shows of Jackie Chan at his best. What he and his stunt team pull of is nothing short of spectacular! And highly dangerous! So if you haven’t seen Police Story yet, I highly recommend that you do, and now… let’s move on to Police Story 2, shall we? Nah, just kidding! That’s for another time and another review!

Well, that’s it for me this week, my friends! The comment section below is all yours and I’ll see you next time then…

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