Back in 1985, Jackie Chan was a proud Hong Konger, rather than a Mainland suck-up. That year saw the release of his first outing as Chan Ka-kui, a model officer of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. In fact, his boss will make him the poster-cop for the department’s recruitment campaign, but his subsequent witness protection assignment brings no end of trouble in Chan’s Police Story, which opens today in a shiny new 4K restoration at the NuArt in LA.
Viewers should have an idea of what to expect from PS1 from the opening action scene. Basically, an entire hillside squatters’ camp is leveled to the ground when Chan chases the slimy crime boss Chu Tao through it. However, Chan is just getting started (as director, character, and action star).
Chu manages to elude Chan’s grasp, but his new assistant Selina Fong is not so fortunate. She has no intention of testifying against her boss, but when the HK brass announces her cooperation, they basically force her hand. Naturally, they assign Chan the supercop to lead her security detail. Unfortunately, Fong will not believe the truth about Chu until it is almost too late, but she will create tons of problems for Chan during the second act, when his naïve girlfriend May mistakenly assumes something intimate is brewing between the cop and the reluctant witness.
If you enjoy fight scenes than Police Story 1 is truly your catnip. Although the film has plenty of Chan’s signature brand of goofy humor, the melee gets pretty brutal, with combatants landing hard on pelvises and tailbones. Much glass is broken during the course of the film, but it all culminates spectacularly in a barnburner of beatdown in a shopping mall, which is just so eighties.
Throughout Police Story, Chan is determined to please and entertain, regardless of the wear and tear on his body. He definitely takes a beating and keeps on ticking. This is classic Chan and Chor Yuen is a classic movie villain as Chu. Frankly, Maggie Cheung is a bit under-employed as May, but Brigitte Lin vamps it up old school as Fong, the pseudo-femme fatale.
Even Jackie Chan’s biggest fans will admit the narrative is just whatever and some of the gags are shamelessly shticky. However, the big action centerpieces are still impressive. It is also quite a vivid reminder of how analog the world was during the mid-1980s. In the case of Hong Kong, it was also freer back then. Indeed, Police Story helps us remember how great the eighties were, back before Jackie Chan sold his soul to the Mainland regime. Highly recommended for all action fans, Police Story 1 and 2 both open today (3/8) in LA, at the Landmark NuArt.