May 8, 2014

Review: San ging caat goo si [New Police Story] (2004)

New Police Story is a completely rebooted entry in the Police Story series. The story has nothing to do with previous films and Jackie Chan does not play Chan Ka-Kui. Instead, he plays Chan Kwok-Wing who is a veteran police inspector in Hong Kong with a long history of success. His exploits have lead him to become very confident which gives him the appearance of being a little too cocky.

New Police Story is a very different Jackie Chan movie from what we're used to. Although there is still a decent amount of comedic moments in this film, it can get quite dark and depressing. It does at times toe the line of being a bit overly melodramatic, it's still refreshing all the same to see Jackie Chan tackle a role that requires a lot of emotion. He does admirable work and he successfully distances himself from his usual fare which isn't easy given how long he's been at it. New Police Story marks 42 years in cinema for Jackie Chan. He could easily just continue playing the same kind of character he usually he does, but he decided to try something totally different and I respect that.

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Genre: action, crime, drama
Directed by: Benny Chan
Produced by: Solon So, Barbie Tung, Jackie Chan, etc.
Written by: Alan Yuen
Music by: Tommy Wai
Running time: 124 minutes
Production company: China Film Group, JCE Entertainment Ltd.
Distributed by: Emperor Motion Pictures, Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Company, Contender Entertainment Group, etc.
Country: Hong Kong, China
Language: Cantonese
Budget: HKD $80,000,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Charlie Yeung, Daniel Wu, Lee Ting-fung, Charlene Choi, Dave Wong, Hayama Go, Terence Yin, Yu Rongguang, Chun Sun, Lui Yau-wai, Coco Chiang, Andy On, Liu Kai-chi, John Shum, Ken Lo, Asuka Higuchi, Steven Cheung, Kenny Kwan, Wu Bai

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Synopsis


New Police Story is about a group of young, rich and bored youths who decide to make a game of killing cops. They successfully rob a bank, but their real goal is to have a competition of who can kill the most police officers which will decide how to split the money. Daniel Wu plays Joe Kwon, the leader of this group and he pretty well in his villainous role. Chan Kwok-Wing claims that he and his team will have these bandits arrested in short order which angers Joe Kwon. So begins a personal vendetta against the police chief.

Review


(Spoilers) The next stage of Kwon's plan draws inspector Chan Kwok-Wing and his squad to a warehouse where they are all picked off one by one, leaving Chan on his own. He finds all of his team dangling from the ceiling, still alive though. He is confronted by the baddies and challenged to a variety of competitions with the lives of his fellow officers being bet. If he loses, they are dropped to their deaths. Chan can't do it, losing every single man as a result. This leaves him broken and unable to return to duty (End spoilers).

Chan goes on a year-long leave, falling into alcoholism which Jackie acts pretty convincingly. Nicolas Tse plays Frank Cheng Siu-fung and he steps in to try to get Chan back on the case. Overall it's an interesting story that gets you to root for Chan to save the day. The tone as I said is very different from past Police Story movies with a lot of sad and depressing scenes. It's a successful reboot and a welcome evolution.

One thing that doesn't really mesh too well with the new tone are the villains. These youths are video game obsessed (which doesn't help the stupid argument that video games cause violence) and take on the appearance of characters out of something like a Final Fantasy game. If director Benny Chan wanted to push Police Story in a more dark and gritty direction, he shouldn't have made the villains so cartoony. The video game aspect also acts as a clue to solving the case and it comes off as being silly and underdeveloped.

The stunts in New Police Story like past Police Story movies are absolutely stunning. There is some amazing stuff here that made my jaw drop. There is however one CGI explosion but that was the only "fake" thing that I could detect. Everything else appears to be real and Jackie Chan as usual does all of his stunts but I don't need to really say that do I? The behind the scenes montage at the end is there as usual for Jackie Chan movies and it fills you in on how the stunts were done. Jackie even provides the singing for this part which is always welcome.

New Police Story doesn't match Police Story or Police Story 2 but I'd put it on par with Supercop. It's definitely better than the disappointing Jackie Chan's First Strike though. It can't be that closely compared to past entries though because of how different it really is. New Police Story is proof that Jackie Chan can do a hard hitting drama movie and that would be a career change I'd be OK with seeing. As much as I love the martial arts Jackie Chan, I'd support a drama Jackie Chan as well.  He's paid his dues over and and over again and if he wants to do "retirement" movies, he's more than welcome. I'll watch them all.

Rating


7/10