How many movies have been made about "the tormented Hong Kong cop?" Fifty? A hundred? It's amazing that such a large group of emotional basket cases can solve a single crime. And yet they do, even if it means blowing up half of Kowloon and wrecking a dozen police cars every time they set out on a chase.
Sarcasm aside, New Police Story (which bears no connection to the many many Police Story movies that have come before it) is a very watchable addition to the genre. Its kitchen-sink approach gives us not only Jackie Chan in an unusually deep and nuanced performance but also a gaggle of Hong Kong cinema's young A-listers chewing up and kicking down the scenery as they portray badass teen criminals with enough time and money to indulge in a string of wild crimes.
We first meet Officer Wing (Chan) on an alcoholic bender a year after something terrible has happened. Flash back to the scene of the crime, and we watch with horror as the teenage gang led by the psychotic Joe (Daniel Wu) ambushes Wing's entire SWAT team inside the obligatory abandoned warehouse, strings them up from the rafters, and executes them one by one as Wing watches, unable to come to their assistance. The gang gets away, and the police force is traumatized. Wing can barely live with the guilt.
A year later he's even more horrified to learn that the punks have created a video game based on the slaughter of the cops and have posted it on the Internet for maladjusted teens the world over to enjoy. Now Wing is really pissed, and he's inspired to get in shape and get back to work by an energetic young partner named Frank (Nicholas Tse), who has his own secret reasons for wanting revenge on the gang.
Let the mayhem begin. As the cops chase the teens around Hong Kong, the movie pulls out all the stops, staging rooftop pursuits, shopping mall shootouts, and double-decker bus chases. (One wonders how the filmmakers get all this done in such a remarkably crowded city. Do they shoot only on Sunday mornings?)
At the center of every action scene as usual is Chan. At age 50 he may not have the same spring in his step that he did 20 years ago, but he can still shame the rest of us into feeling like the couchiest of couch potatoes. In one of the best set pieces, he finds himself mano a mano with a teenage punk in a Lego showroom. As they fight, millions of Legos shower down all around them until they are knee deep in tiny red and blue bricks. It's classic Chan: funny, exciting, and fast.
New Police Story is violent enough to get an R rating (probably because of the cop killing), but it's really a harmless popcorn film that's perfect for a laid-back night of easy entertainment. A tip of the hat to Chan for taking a break from his big-budget Hollywood mugging to return to his roots and do what he does best: shake up the streets of Hong Kong.
Aka San ging chaat goo si.
Abbey Road reference, anyone?