DVD Review: New Police Story

PrintE-mail Written by Gary Armstrong

Newly released as part of Cine-Asia’s relaunch of the Hong Kong Legends DVD catalogue, 2004’s New Police Story sees Jackie Chan return to the franchise most celebrated by action fans, in a modernised reboot that features a darker, more troubled super-cop on a road to redemption.

The head of an elite police team, Inspector Chan is charged with the task of halting a spree of violent bank robberies by a new criminal gang that show a murderous dislike of the police force. Underestimating the gang as just another group of young punks, the highly trained and determinedly bloodthirsty crew take apart Chan's officers in a chamber of technological horrors, with every corner booby-trapped and rigged to maim. Left alone to helplessly witness the downfall of his crew, Chan is forced in to a confrontation with the gangs leader Joe Kwan (Daniel Wu), who scolds Chan for his arrogance, and punishes him with the untimely demise of his squad.

One year later, Chan is picked up from the alleyway floor by the enthusiastic and fresh faced member of the force, Zheng Xiaofeng (Nicholas Tse). The mysterious newcomer is heavily invested in Chan’s recovery, attempting to patch together every facet of his former life and getting him in shape to take down Kwan’s gang, who’s reign of terror has remained unchallenged in the time of Chan’s absence.

Starting a movie seeing Jackie Chan as a washed up drunk demonstrates New Police Story’s attempts at adding a new edge to the stars repertoire. Chan excels in the film's early scenes that rely on both his still unmatched ability for physical performance and formerly untapped acting skills. While always cocky and confident on screen, its strange seeing Chan play a genuinely flawed hero, one that does its best to drive the audience away from any sympathy such is the level of his arrogance.

While the other cast aren’t of particular note, Nicholas Tse is a surprise as Zheng, carrying a great sense of timing and a truly charming personality, subduing early worries about his abilities beyond looking good. While most of the younger stars were clearly cast because of their faces, Daniel Wu comes across as a believable villain. A viable threat to Chan throughout the film, he conveys the characters childhood trauma and subsequent menace without subtlety, but with effect.

Naturally, the biggest attraction to New Police Story will be the film's stunt work and action sequences. Chan’s unique style is used perfectly, continuing to demonstrate the stars ability to defy the years. Tse also manages to pull of some great action moments, often paying homage to the famous Jackie style. The film does fall foul of some of the less desirable trends of modern Asian film. Much of the CG work is poor, but thankfully it doesn't rely on the technology too much. Major stunt scenes involving Chan are all done in the old fashioned way, most notable amongst them, a three man chase sequence down the side of a skyscraper.

Awkwardly, like many of the films that deal with youth themes coming from Hong Kong, the desired effect of appearing “cool” and current falls totally flat. Even in 2004, there really wasn’t anything new or dangerous about young rich kids on rollerblades.

Overall, director Benny Chan juggles many styles within one tightly constructed film. It has plenty of of the large scale stunt work fans will expect but incorporates more evenly balanced gunplay and some brilliantly choreographed fight scenes plotted throughout. New Police Story remains an entertaining return to form for Jackie Chan fans who yearned to see the star return to his action roots.

Extras: Trailers, Out-take montage, biographies, behind the scenes featurettes and interviews with Director Benny Chan and the cast.

New Police Story is available now on 2 Disc DVD from Cine-Asia

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