Release Date(s)1985/1988 (April 30, 2019)
Studio(s)Golden Harvest/Media Asia (Criterion - Spine #971 & #972)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B
- Overall Grade: A
Before Tom Cruise was breaking his ankle doing his own stunts, and other A-list actors were given high-fives for doing “some of their own” as well, international martial artist Jackie Chan was pulling off body-breaking, slack-jawing stunts that nobody would touch today. Thrown off of buildings, crashing through glass, and escaping exploding buildings – he pushed his limits as far as humanly possible with well choreographed fight scenes – albeit with the notion of “let’s hope this works” (quite often these stunts didn’t work out, which you can always see in the outtakes during the end credits). Needless to say, he is unmatched when it comes to death-defying stunts.
Unhappy with how his first film, The Protector, turned out for American audiences, Chan decided to make a movie on his own terms: Police Story, followed by Police Story 2. Both films are masterpieces and work as one long story broken into two films. Chan stars as Chan Ka Kui, a cop that will stop at nothing to catch the bad guys. It’s a story that’s been done many times, but what most of these derivative films lack is fun, and that’s what Chan brings to the table (as well as lots and lots of kicks, punches, and laughs).
What makes his fight scenes so arresting (especially in these two films) is that they’re well orchestrated. Whatever area the fights takes place in, everything in the vicinity will be used to fight with; whether it’s a shoe, two small steps, or a sock – Chan will find a way to use them creatively during the battle. He’s also incredibly fast, but his comedic timing is impeccable. It’s clear that he’s seen a lot of Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, and many other comedy greats growing up. It’s a big part of his characters as well, which makes them endearing when he’s not throwing punches.
POLICE STORY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A-/A/B
POLICE STORY 2 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A/B
The Criterion Collection has packaged the two films together with gorgeous cover art by Jeremy Enecio that’s worth getting a theatrical 27 x 40 sized frame to put on a wall. It’s slick and simple with two colors (which run throughout the two films), an illustrated drawing of Chan who looks like he just gave a glass window a real beatin’, which is essential as glass plays a crucial role in these films. I’m confident that every window, mirror, light bulb, and TV gets broken at some point (Chan’s batshit crazy final stunt in the first film involves more glass shattering in one scene than probably the entirety of Hollywood cinema – which is hyperbolic, but you get my point).
The Blu-rays of both films also shattered my expectations, featuring incredibly bright and colorful 4K restorations, which make each film appear as if they were released yesterday – even giving some recent 4K-UHD releases a run for their money. The audio comes in uncompressed monaural (which I’ve learned I’m not a fan of), as well as alternative 5.1 surround (which I am a big fan of). Also included is the following:
– Alternate English-dubbed soundtracks
– New English subtitle translations
– Alternate versions of both films, presented in a 2K digital transfer for the first time from a subtitled 35mm Hong Kong-release print
– New interview with filmmaker Edgar Wright and a 2017 podcast conversation between Wright and Jackie Chan
– New programs on Chan’s screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques featuring author and New York Asian Film Festival co-founder Grady Hendrix
– Episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show from 1989 featuring interviews with Chan and actor Maggie Cheung
– Archival interviews with Chan and actor and stuntman Benny Lai
– Excerpts from Jackie Chan: My Stunts, a 1999 documentary co-directed by and starring Chan
– Excerpt from a 2017 TV program reuniting Chan with the original members of the Jackie Chan stunt team
– TV program from 1964 detailing the rigors of Beijing-opera training, akin to the education that Chan received as a child
– Chan stunt reel
– Insert booklet with an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton
The extra features are delicious for martial arts aficionados. There’s a lot to chew on while watching Chan talk about his many crafts. For collectors, Criterion’s release of Police Story and Police Story 2 is an obvious must own.
– Chase Whale