Great action and a likeable cast save Benny Chan’s reboot from a mediocre story.
“They’re insane; they’re not doing it for money and recently, they’ve turned your case into an online game”
Benny Chan – creator of the greatest Chinese-language Paul Rudd movie – has quite a long history with writer-director-actor Jackie Chan (no relation). Starting with 1998’s Who Am I, and going as far as 2011’s Shaolin, the two have worked on a number of movies together, and as a team they seem to be doing pretty well. So it only seems natural that, when the idea of a reboot of Jackie’s uber-popular Police Story was being passed around, he take it as his next project.
In this movie, Jackie Chan abandons his Chan Ka-kui role and instead plays Chan Kwok-wing because the guy apparently can’t play any role whose name doesn’t contain either Jackie or Chan. He’s an Inspector for the Hong Kong police, and is tasked with bringing down a team of young bank robbers. Armed with his team, Chan locates their hideout, but discovers it’s a rigged labyrinth of death-traps. His men are picked off one by one until he is left. When the leader, Joe (Daniel Wu), challenges him to a series of police-related tasks, like putting a gun together or surviving in a one-on-one match, Chan accepts, but his losses result in the deaths of each member of his team.
The hideout self-destructs, and Chan is the sole survivor. He takes time off from the force, becoming a drunk in the process. A year later, he meets a young cop called Frank (Nicholas Tse), claiming to be the brother of one of Chan’s old team. He convinces Chan to pick up the trail again, but fighting off his demons (as well as a police force that does as little as possible to support him) might be the toughest challenge for him yet.
As anyone who’s ever watched one of Chan’s Police Story films might notice, New Police Story is not exactly done in the style one might have come to expect. Following Jackie’s then-recent desire to switch to more dramatic roles, this iteration of the series is considerably darker in tone, almost jarringly so. Chan is, in my opinion, definitely stronger as a comedic actor, but he does a pretty decent job here, especially at the beginning when he begs for the lives of his men. It’s good, but it’s definitely not what you’ve come to expect from the man. If you’ve gone straight from Police Story 4: First Strike to this, you’re in for a big surprise.
But the darker tone of the movie works in its favour, and allows for beats and moments we would not have gotten otherwise, and manages to ground a lot of the action all the while keeping it in that state of semi-reality you get in a lot of Jackie Chan films. Where it falls down in regards to its tone is in the story and the handling of the main villains. The gang of bank robbers are sadistic, which isn’t by itself a bad idea, but the way it’s presented makes them seem more like Batman villains. They set elaborate traps, earn points whenever they kill a cop, and whoop and cackle their way through their scenes. Toning them down a bit would have worked massively in the film’s favour.
The second big flaw comes from the twists and turns this movie takes. Story points are dropped on the characters out of nowhere, big revelations are shrugged off and everything feels a bit more manufactured than I imagine they wanted to. Again, it’s a shame because a lot of this film works, so when it doesn’t it really shows. But it’s still better than Police Story 2013. New Polie Story benefits from its main cast, which are all really likeable. Once again, Nicholas Tse just has to smile to be appealling and Charlene Choi’s fellow police officer character helps bring soe levity into what could otherwise be a pretty grim film.
The action is amazing and as always features a couple of stunts you’re not likely to forget any time soon. Benny Chan likes to use Hollywood-style cuts in his fight choreography, which kill some of the immersion, but that’s a minor gripe. New Police Story is, despite its title, nothing new, but it’s nevertheless a mostly-fun film, and one of Jackie Chan’s better forays into drama. If you like either Benny or Jackie Chan you’ll probably find something you’ll like among all of this.
Verdict: Not perfect by a long shot, New Police Story nevertheless has its moments and some exciting set pieces.
Overall entertainment: 6.5/10
Relation to the Police Story series: None
Rubber duck trucks: Just lying around apparently
Movie’s understanding of online games: 0
Gun disassembling sequences: 3!
New Police Story (2004)
Also known as: 新警察故事
Director: Benny Chan
Writer: Alan Yuen
Jackie Chan – Senior Inspector Chan Kwok-wing
Nicholas Tse – Frank Cheng Siu-fung
Charlie Yeung – Sun Ho-yee
Daniel Wu – Joe Kwan
Charlene Choi – Sa Sa
Dave Wong – Sam Wong Sum
Hayama Go – Max Leung
Terence Yin – Fire
Yu Rongguang – Commander Chiu Chan
Chun Sun – Joe Kwan’s father
Lui Yau-wai – Joe Kwan’s mother (as Lisa Lui)
Coco Chiang – Sue Chow
Andy On – Law Tin-tin
Liu Kai-chi – Chief Tai
John Shum – Eric Chow