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  New Police Story May The Force Be with You
Year: 2004
Director: Benny Chan
Stars: Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Daniel Wu, Charlie Yeung, Dave Wong, Charlene Choi, Coco Chiang, Terence Yin, Andy On, Kai Chi Liu, Chun Sun, Lisa Lui, Kenny Kwan, Steven Cheung, Rongguang Yu
Genre: Action, Thriller, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Inspector Chan Kwok-Wing (Jackie Chan) is in a bad way, stumbling out of a bar completely drunk and refused a taxi home because the driver recognises him and doesn't want to clean his sick out of the back of his cab. Chan ends up collapsed in an alley, sleeping off his stupor, but what has brought him so low, what terrible incident in his past? To answer that question we must travel to a year ago, where he was a successful policeman and taking care of criminals with ease. For example, one night he was involved with a hostage situation where an aggrieved bank customer who had lost a lot of money on bad advice was threatening to shoot an employee. He demanded a television camera to air his story, but the man holding the camera was none other than Chan, who after a scuffle was able to disarm him, disposing of the grenade he was holding with a handy manhole. Chan was one of the best - but would he be again?

The title, San Ging Chaat Goo Si in its original language, but New Police Story in English, should tell you all you need to know about the film, but there's a little more to it than that. Where the previous instalments in this series were comedy oriented, this largely unrelated one opts for a more serious tone and the laughs are few. Jackie Chan in the twenty-first century must always be described as in great shape for his age, and although there's more computer graphic trickery to aid him in his endeavours, he doesn't disappoint in carrying out his own stunts. However, this time we're offered Chan the dramatic actor as well, as if to say, yes, he can still fling himself around, but take stock of the man's thespian skills as well - and be impressed, why don't you?

Which is fair enough, and Alan Yuen's script gives Chan plenty of opportunities for looking miserable and even crying, but did we really want to see Chan in tears if there wasn't a joke payoff? The reason he's so upset is that a year ago a gang robbed a large Hong Kong bank, and it seemed like the easiest thing in the world to track them down and bring them to justice, but that was the cops' first mistake. Chan led a team into the villains' den, but they were utterly outwitted and the gang, treating the assault like a computer game, managed to bump off all the team except for Chan, who was left a broken man. You may ponder that it's been a year since then and the gang are still on the loose, so what are the police doing all this time? But mainly the first hour is about Chan getting his self-respect back, and his girlfriend Yee (Charlie Yeung) into the bargain.

This happens thanks to a new cop in town, Cheng (the charismatic Nicholas Tse), an eccentric wearing a distinctive jacket who has nothing but faith in Chan. There are grumpy old man tendencies to the narrative, as the gang of baddies are a bunch of youngsters who live off their parents' money, play computer games and generally having a good time at others' expense, but Cheng's good hearted demeanour strikes a balance. Once we have Chan reinstated in the Force, against his wishes it must be said, we start to recognise the Jackie Chan of old and the stunts and fight sequences begin to mount up, notably one involving a runaway bus that is not only a nod to the previous Police Stories but a fine burst of action as well. With the misery and attempt to prove its star's acting chops out of the way, the film turns more crowd pleasing, featuring a tense defuse the bomb bit and ending with a fight through a modern Hong Kong business block (how much did a certain toy manufacturer pay for that scene in one of their shops?) and an aptly humanitarian, "give the wayward a chance" message. All in all, reliable entertainment. Music by Tommy Wai.

[Hong Kong Legends' recommended double disc Region 2 DVD has featurettes, a director interview, cast interviews and trailers as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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