Police Story 2, 125 mins, 1988, 4K UHD
Starring & directed by Jackie Chan – The Cannonball Run, Police Story, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, The Foreigner
Starring Maggie Cheung – Police Story, In the Mood for Love, Hero, 2046
Well it only took me close to six months, which is ridiculous really considering what I paid for it, but I finally got back to Eureka’s Police Story boxset and watched Police Story 2. There’s three cuts on the disc, I went with an extended Hong Kong cut with original Cantonese dialogue/English subtitles (the foreign cuts are apparently much shorter).
Maybe thanks to having watched the first film (which had proved something of a disorientating experience) and thus knowing what to expect, I actually enjoyed this one more. Its as daft as the first, none of the characters behave normally and none of the relationships really convince but its clear that films like this are operating on some other level compared to most films. To a degree that also applies to action films in general, as this is far more Buster Keaton than, say, John Wick, which, tonally alone, is a pretty big distinction. To be sure, the stunts and action sequences are easily just as impressive but its clear that the action choreography is as nuts as the writing of the plot, the dialogue and the characters. Thankfully (for me, anyway) the humour, which seemed particularly off-putting in the first film, is toned down in this one… not that this is the Empire Strikes Back of the Police Story saga, you understand, but it did seem, well maybe a little darker, more grounded. I wouldn’t say more realistic, really, but… well, this film is definitely less of the cartoon that the first film seemed to be.
The costly carnage that police officer Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan) wrought apprehending the first film’s criminals has resulted him being demoted to a traffic cop, and to make matters worse for him, the crime boss Mr Chu, who he put behind bars, has gotten out due to health issues. Mr Chu tasks some of his men to harass and threaten Chan’s long-suffering girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung). Meanwhile, Chan’s old bosses consider reinstating him to save them risking their own careers when a group of terrorist bombers blow up a shopping mall and extort a major real estate corporation for $10 million, threatening more bombings.
I did have such a good time with this. Maybe I was primed by the increasing daftness of those recently-viewed Rocky films, but I also think the film had been reined in a little from the mad theatrics of the first. It certainly seemed less slapstick, or maybe it was just that I was better attuned to it – some of the humour was terrific (Bill Tung as Chan’s police boss Uncle Bill was a delight), and as a madcap action flick, the film works brilliantly. You don’t critique these films for plot, that seems clear. Its all about engineering elaborate stunt/action scenes as increasingly spectacular as possible. Its all about entertainment and on that level, yep, this works very well.
Regards those stunts though- the end-credits sequence shows us those same stunts going wrong and the injuries they result in (particularly an horrific one for Maggie Cheung). Its sort of like an outtake reel, which only serves to reveal how much riskier they were than I had thought- I had watched the film assuming there was some kind of trickery to most of them; the pyrotechnics were pretty astonishing, so I assumed some fakery there (maybe its the use of CGI these days making us more relaxed/complacent about stunt work in films). But it turns out they were much more dangerous and intimidating than I had originally considered possible for what is, essentially, a daft action movie, but I imagine they do make these films eminently rewatchable.
Well, just one more to go- Police Story 3: Supercop. Maybe I won’t be waiting as many months to get around to that one.