Eureka Entertainment present for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, from magnificent 4K restorations, two of Jackie Chan’s finest ever action films! Starring and directed by Jackie Chan, the Police Story films broke new ground for Hong Kong action cinema, with some of the most daring stunts and exhilarating martial arts sequences ever committed to film. Jackie himself considers “Police Story” to be his finest action movie. This stunning release also features the now legendary Jackie Chan episode of Jonathan Ross’ documentary series “The Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show”.
Action superstar Jackie Chan plays “Inspector Chan Ka-Kui”, or Kevin Chan in some international versions. Maggie Cheung stars as Ka-Kui’s long-suffering girlfriend “May”. Cheung has appeared to great acclaim in the films “The Iceman Cometh”, “As Tears Go By”, “Dragon From Russia”, “Moon Warriors”, “New Dragon Gate Inn”, “In the Mood for Love”, “The Heroic Trio”, “Hero” and many, many more. She would go onto reprise the role in the second and third episodes of the Police Story series.
Hong Kong movie fan favourite, actor Bill Tung stars as “Inspector/Uncle Bill Wong”, Ka-Kui’s boss. Famous as a horse racing commentator, Bill Tung appeared in numerous classic Hong Kong movies, frequently co-starring with Jackie Chan. As well as appearing in the first four Police Story films, he has had memorable roles in “Project A Part II”, “The Inspector Wears Skirts/Top Squad”, “Miracles”, “Drunken Master II” and “Rumble in the Bronx”.
One of Jackie Chan’s closest friends and a prolific member of the JC Stunt Team, Cheung Wing Fat, better known as Mars, plays Ka-Kui’s partner “Inspector ‘Big Mouth’ Kim”.
Also appearing in the first two instalments are Hong Kong character actors Lam Kwok-hung as “Superintendent Raymond Li”, and Kent Tong Chun-yip as “Inspector Francis Tak”. Playing the crime bosses that are the focus of Ka-Kui’s energy are Chor Yuen as “Chu Tao”, and Charlie Cho as “John Ko”.
Guest starring in the first movie is Brigitte Lin as “Selina Fong”, Chu Tao’s secretary. Lin has had a glittering Asian film career appearing in films such as “New Dragon Gate Inn”, “Swordsman II”, “Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain”, “Peking Opera Blues” and “Ashes of Time”, to name but a few. Playing tough henchman “Danny Chu Ko”, Fung Hak-on, has appeared or performed stunts in classic movies ranging from “The Boxer from Shantung”, and “Iron Fisted Monk”, through to “The Young Master”, “Magnificent Butcher” and “Kung Fu Hustle”.
Police Story (1985): The Royal Hong Kong Police Force is planning a major undercover sting to arrest the notorious crime lord Chu Tao. In the process of carrying out the operation, Inspector Chan Ka-Kui and his team destroy a shanty town. After arresting Chu, Chan is assigned is to protect Chu Tao’s secretary, Selina Fong, who plans to testify in court about Chu Tao’s illegal activities. The trial fails due to Selina’s tampering with evidence. Though Chu Tao is released on bail, he wants revenge against Ka-Kui, framing him for the murder of a fellow police officer. Meanwhile, Selina, fearing her life is at risk from Chu, downloads incriminating data from Chu Tao’s computer. In a spectacular showdown, Chu Tao and his gang come face-to-face with Chan in a shopping mall, as they battle to intercept Selina and her evidence.
Police Story 2 (1988): Picking up where the first movie left off, Chan Ka-Kui has been demoted to a traffic cop for causing so much damage in his apprehension of Chu during the events of Police Story 1. Chu has been released from prison on the pretence that he is terminally ill. His henchmen continue to taunt Chan and his girlfriend May, bringing Ka-Kui to boiling point. Treading a thin line between upholding the law and breaking it, Chan is reinstated as a detective to investigate a gang of criminal bombers. All bets are off when the gang make things personal leading Chan to a truly explosive finale.
By the mid 1980’s, Jackie Chan had firmly established himself as the number one star in the Hong Kong movie business. His incredible, record-breaking successes at the Asian box office had inevitably drawn interest from Hollywood. His first foray into the American film market was 1980’s “Battle Creek Brawl/The Big Brawl”. Disappointingly, the Western-style of filmmaking just didn’t quite gel with Jackie’s Eastern-style screen action, and the film flopped. A second attempt was made in 1985 with “The Protector”, which suffered the same problems and fate, as well as woefully miscasting Jackie as a Dirty Harry-type cop. However, Jackie’s disappointment over “The Protector” did inspire him to make a cops-and-gangsters movie of his own, Hong Kong-style. Wanting to move away from the traditional, kung fu movies he had built his career on, Jackie wanted to perform fighting and stunt sequences that could rival anything previously seen in the East or West.
From the opening minutes of Police Story, Jackie lays down a strong hand of his intentions. Ka-Kui and his team of undercover cops are discovered in a shanty town by the criminal gang they are shadowing. A frantic shootout initiates an astonishing chase sequence of stunts. Jackie jumps into a car that flies down the steep hillside, smashing and crashing through the shacks that make up the specially constructed shanty town set. Stuntmen perched on the rickety structures are thrown or jump clear at the very last second. It leads to Jackie pursuing his quarry onto a double-decker bus in what would become one of his most famous scenes. Using a specially adapted umbrella, Jackie is dragged behind the speeding bus before making an incredible climb up the side, all the time missing the oncoming traffic by a matter of centimetres. The sequence concludes with a well-documented stunt that went wrong. Members of Jackie’s stunt team were meant to crash out of the top deck of the bus to a relatively safe landing on a stationary car. However, the nature of the bus’s air brakes meant they fell short and landed on the concrete road. The stunt made the final cut of the film.
For the fighting action, the contemporary setting allowed Jackie to move away from traditional-looking kung fu techniques, to a faster, frenetic and more realistic street-fighting style. Jackie frequently fights off several opponents at once. It is all very carefully choreographed so that there is none of the old-fashioned “henchman waiting around in the background for his turn”. A fight in and around two cars, or the stunning playground fight from the second film are the epitome of Jackie Chan’s incredible invention and use of his surroundings in an action sequence. His stunt team are pushed to their limits with every bone-crunching fall, or spectacular corkscrewing landing onto something solid and painful-looking.
These are Jackie Chan films of course, and so there is always an element of humour. He has a hilarious sequence with his old friend Mars when they try to trick Brigitte Lin into thinking Ka-Kui’s partner is a masked kidnapper. The films are peppered throughout with neat little inventive moments, as Jackie skips over a high wall in his own unique way, or answers several telephones at once, requiring him to use his hands and feet.
The final sequences of each film are unique. The first movie features the famous finale in the Wing On Plaza shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. The leaps and falls onto the metal escalators are still wince-inducing over three decades on. There was so much glass broken in the final sequence that there was a running joke on set that the movie should’ve been named “Glass Story”! It concludes with what Jackie considers one of his most daring stunts, a huge leap and slide onto a pole, that left Chan suffering second-degree burns, as well as a back injury and dislocation of his pelvis upon landing.
Jackie Chan – The Hero Story (“Police Story” Theme)
The much more pyrotechnic “Police Story 2” features many memorable Jackie Chan moments. There is the classic aforementioned playground fight, and a live-action version of the old “Frogger” computer game, as Jackie runs across several lanes of traffic. During the filming of this scene, Jackie actually encouraged a van driver to brake late and hit him! The sequence is followed by a frantic brawl in a restaurant, that utilises every bit of furniture, crockery and, of course, all the glass! Jackie Chan always tries to make every scene innovative, and turns the simple act of sneaking across a street into an acrobatic gymnastics display on the roof of a bus! Jackie’s improvised diffusing of a bomb vest is particularly clever. Chan also delivers a great onscreen fight with senior JC Stunt Team member Benny Lai. Lai’s kicking speed, timing and rhythm are easily the equal of Jackie’s, giving a real sense of peril for our hero. The explosive final frames featured a record number of cameras to capture the incredible fireworks display of a finale, as a warehouse is destroyed.
The outtakes of each film reveal the astonishing lengths the stars and stunt team went to in achieving each remarkable action set-piece. Jackie suffers several severe knocks, a series of serious cuts, stuntmen suffer broken bones, and even Maggie Cheung suffered a major head injury filming “Police Story 2” that required seventeen stitches and a week in hospital.
Aside from the quality of the action, the extra features on this Blu-ray release are impressive. Just about every audio option you could wish for is available as well as three different cuts of the first movie, and a selection of deleted and alternate scenes. The same is true for the second disc, featuring for the first time in the UK the full, uncut two-hour version of the film. The Jackie Chan Stunts Promo is a reminder of all the injuries he and his team suffer to bring us the best action entertainment in the world of cinema. There are interviews with Jackie himself about the making of “Police Story”, and Benny Lai not only talks about his film career, but also demonstrates his Praying Mantis skills with a performance of the famous Seven Star Breaking Step form.
However there is one extra feature in particular that really elevates this release above all other previous editions. For many British Jackie Chan fans, their first introduction to his style of action was through a late night television documentary series that first aired on Channel 4 on 22nd September 1989. Presented by chat show host and cult movie fan Jonathan Ross, “The Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show”, ran a 40-minute feature on Jackie Chan. For British television audiences, it was a fascinating insight into his unique approach to movie making, with behind-the-scenes looks at his stuntwork, fight choreography and editing. Describing his rise to fame, Ross follows Jackie onto the set of his latest film “Miracles”. There are also clips from the 1988 film “Painted Faces” starring Sammo Hung, which tells the tale of Jackie’s childhood in a Peking Opera school. In the editing suite, Jackie breaks down in gruesome detail his near fatal accident on the set of “Armour of God”. He even makes Ross feel the resulting hole in his head! Ross even gets to attend Jackie’s 35th birthday party! This documentary is a real gem, even if you have seen it before.
The first “Police Story” film is special to me as it was the first “proper” (“Cannonball Run” doesn’t count!) Jackie Chan film that I saw when I was 13 or 14 years old. The opening stunt sequence was mind-blowing – the sleeve of the VHS copy even stated it was “worth the price of admission alone”! The flips and falls performed by Jackie and his stunt team were more astonishing than any previous action film I had witnessed. The fight choreography brought a fresh dynamic of rhythm and realism unlike anything I had ever seen before.
The first film set the bar so high, that inevitably the sequels have never quite reached the same heights. Even so, in the second movie, every fight scene, particularly the one set in a playground, and stunts such as Jackie traversing a street using the roof of a bus, are still up there with the best of his work. Even the catchy theme song has become iconic to Jackie Chan fans!
These current crop of releases from Eureka Entertainment really do present the films in the best form they have ever looked. The colours are bright and bold, with newly-translated, clear subtitles. Jackie Chan is often overlooked as a director, but he is real master of his craft with these action films. He carefully frames each action scene and edits with jump cuts and slow motion to really illustrate every intricate detail of the physical performances on display. In “Police Story 2”, Director Jackie builds Hitchcock-like tension as Ka-Kui goes after a slow motion bouncing ball during a suspected bomb hoax. There is even a Scorsese-style unbroken tracking shot of Uncle Bill and Raymond discussing a case whilst navigating the police department.
For the connoisseurs, the uncut versions of each film restore mostly scenes of broad humour and exposition that I guess Western distributors originally felt were unnecessary. It was a genuine treat to revisit these films with new scenes that I have never experienced in context before.
Not only are these films a great example of Jackie Chan’s skills they are a real showcase of the incredible work of his stunt team. The legacy of the Police Story films continues today. They have spawned five sequels and a spin-off (Michelle Yeoh‘s “Once a Cop”), and influenced action films such as “Bad Boys 2”, “Born to Fight”, “Tango & Cash”, and “Rapid Fire”. Sylvester Stallone once even told Jackie Chan that he watches Police Story whenever he needs inspiration for creating an action scene!
In addition to having two of Jackie Chan’s finest action spectacles looking better than ever, the inclusion of “The Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show” is a huge bonus. It’s a documentary worthy of its own release.
Even by today’s standards, with Tom Cruise performing his own impressive stunts in blockbusters like “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, these 30 year-old films remain jaw-droppingly impressive. There is no CGI or green screen here, just real people performing real, death-defying, brilliantly choreographed action. Coupled with the stunning high-definition presentation, soundtrack options, various cuts and excellent extra features, this is another no-brainer purchase from Eureka, and is the definitive release of these two action classics.
- Stuntman Mars appears in the first two Police Story films as Ka-Kui’s partner “Kim”. For Police Story 3: Supercop, he played one of the villains of Panther’s gang.
- In “Police Story” Jackie Chan sustained burns on his hands during the pole slide scene in the mall. The Christmas tree lights were plugged into the wall instead of a low-voltage car battery.
- The climactic mall pole slide sequence was filmed in one take, without any rehearsals or use of wires.
- In the double-decker bus scene, Jackie used a metal umbrella because a wooden one kept slipping when he tried to hang onto the bus.
- Between 1994 and 2004, the Hong Kong TV series Police Report adopted the “Police Story” theme song sung by Jackie Chan, as its own theme. Since 2009, the same song is re-adopted as the theme song of Police Report, but sung by Hacken Lee. Televised job advertisements for the Hong Kong Police also adopted segments of the song.
- In the dive from the roof of a bus in “Police Story 2”, Jackie smashed into the wrong glass pane, causing severe cuts to his wrist and head. This scene is actually used in the film and the outtakes show the pain caused.
- “If you let me go, all this is yours. A once-in-three-lifetimes chance, no one will ever find out.” – Chu Tao (trying to bribe Ka-Kui.)
- “Stay here any longer and I’d kick your ass! Nice parking though!” – A disgruntled driver (who has his parking space stolen in style by Ka-Kui!)
- “The law? The law takes care of those who don’t have money for a lawyer!” – Ka-Kui
Police Story 2
- “How do I explain this to the chief?” – Superintendent Raymond Li
- “You don’t have to. I quit.” – Ka-Kui
The Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show
- “You must speed the films up surely?” – Jonathan Ross
- “No, I am quick enough.” – Jackie Chan (in reply.)
Film Rating: 10/10
The Police Story 1 & 2 Box Set is out on Blu-ray from 20th August 2018 courtesy of Eureka Classics! If you’re a fan what more could you ask for? Apart from a high-definition, uncut “Drunken Master 2”, (please? pretty please?) or “Once Upon a Time in China 1 & 2”, or “Wheels on Meals”? Stay tuned for your chance to win yourself a copy of this box set very soon!
Enjoying these newly restored classics as much as we are? Which other titles would you like to see restored in fabulous HD? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. (Enter our world of FU-flix for your daily HI-NRG fix!)