Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese police captain who is finding life getting the better of him as he wakes up in the back of a cab outside a nightclub. He pays the driver and manages to enter the establishment after negotiating the doorman, but inside he feels very out of place among the clubbers and bosses. However, it is one person he is there to see, and that's his daughter, Miao (Jing Tian), who is hanging out there because she knows the owner, Wu Jiang (Liu Ye) and partly to get back at her father for his perceived inadequacies in looking after her. Their conversation does not go well, but just as Wen is about to give up, he is distracted: a hostage situation can tend to have that effect.
Although this was titled Police Story: Lockdown, it was neither a sequel to the classic Police Story series that made Jackie Chan one of the biggest stars on the planet, nor was it a sequel to New Police Story which was a more serious reboot of the franchise that didn't quite take around ten years before. This may have been intended as another reboot, but it was difficult to tell; what wasn't difficult to make out was the fact that compared to the previous effort to bear this title, it was if anything even more grave, to the point of glum, with very little in the way of bright spots when once again in this late stage in his career Chan was seeking to demonstrate his thespian chops in a sincere manner.
Whether he actually needed to do so when he was so beloved for making audiences laugh and gasp, often simultaneously, was a different matter, and there was a sense of him pushing back against his image unnecessarily, as if he didn't quite trust the skills that brought him such enormous success, hitting a midlife crisis later than most men are supposed to, closer to a more pensionable age. With that in mind, perhaps a better title for Police Story: Lockdown would have been Crime Story: Lockdown, as it was in that vein of "I want you to take me very seriously" reshaping of a star who had hitherto been best known for his humorous antics, albeit not exclusively, but that was what had gathered his legions of adoring fans.
In fact, this was more of a drama than a thriller, set largely in one location with occasional action flashbacks, with the main villain, mainland Chinese star Liu Ye (as opposed to a Hong Kong star like Chan), a curiously reserved and even passionless adversary for what was presumably intended to be an action flick of sorts. He had been acclaimed for his dramatic roles, so you imagine he was recruited to add the necessary gravitas to the proceedings, yet in effect the impression you took away was that you were not there to be entertained, you were there to muse over the mechanisms that brought citizens to break the law when they felt they were entirely justified to do so, no matter who might get hurt in the process. Wu does have his reasons for demanding to see a prisoner who has to be escorted to the nightclub, but are they worth putting the hostages' lives at risk to do so?
Well, no, would be the answer to that, but for someone with such a taciturn personality, Wu doesn’t seem to be thinking straight at all, which leaves Wen the man to stand up to him and try to persuade him to see the error of his ways. There was action here as Chan voiced his wish to present cage fighting in one of his films, which went about as well as you'd expect, with director Ding Sheng serving up some very twenty-first century combat where it was so fast edited that you or I could very well appear to be an accomplished martial artist should we be depicted in such a fashion, with every strike getting its own shot therefore cutting down the need to stage extended, one or two shot fights that Chan had been so adept with in the past. So miserable was Wen that we even started the film watching his apparent suicide, and that joyless mood, while well sustained, wasn't exactly amusing to witness. Diehard fans of Chan would need to see this, possibly thanks to the Police Story title, possibly to see where their idol's head was at as he entered his sixties. Music by Lao Zai.
[Kaleidoscope's DVD has a behind the scenes featurette and interviews as extras.]