New Police Story, directed by the great and powerful Benny Chan, is the fourth installment of the very popular crime/action franchise Police Story. Jackie Chan is the star of this movie and plays Chan Kwok-Wing; a senior inspector in the Hong Kong police force. Chan is faced with tragedy and regret when he leads his squadron into a situation resulting in their loss of life, due to a young and violent gang with a strong distaste for cops. Chan feels guilty and becomes an hapless drunk, before another young prospective inspector (played by Zheng Xiaofeng) helps him get back up on his feet so that Chan can avenge his team’s death.
In some sense, we see Jackie Chan playing a different type of action star in this movie. Yes, he still kicks ass and partakes in mind-blowing stunt and combat sequences, but at the same time his character is also broken. As mentioned, Chan Kwok-Wing undergoes tragedy through the loss of his team and soon turns to alcoholism to deal with his problems. This was a nice mix-up for Jackie, who often plays a more upbeat protagonist.
New Police Story, like its predecessors, also contains some brilliantly executed action set-pieces. Two scenes that immediately come to mind include the bus sequence and the bomb defusal scene. The first involves a double decker bus wrecking collateral damage on the bus as inspector Chan attempts to gain access to its drivers seat, which had been left vacant. The infamous bomb defusal involves Chans’ fiance being handed a dubious device, which requires her to balance a number of pinballs between glass tubes such that they do not touch the ends of the tubes causing the infused bomb to go off. Both scenes were very entertaining and nail-biting to watch.
The rest of the action in this film also lived up to its hype. It contained very few cuts, minimal use of stunt doubles, real falls/hits, and long & continuous hand to hand martial arts sequences showcasing peak athleticism and technique, all while providing superb entertainment value.
On the negative side of things, the musical score felt a bit too overwhelming in certain moments. The choice of tunes and rhythms also made it seem like I was watching a sad soap opera, rather than an intense Chinese martial arts film. Some of the characters also weren’t well written. Chan Kwok-Wing’s “sidekick” (played by Zheng Xiaofeng), felt like too much of a pretty boy rather than a character with actual purpose in the movie. His performance was too goofy for my taste, featuring many cringeworthy deliveries of dialogue. There was also a few abhorrent uses of computer generated effects to mimic windows shattering and fire that just do not hold up to today’s standards.
In short, New Police Story is a perfectly respectable sequel to a popularly known action franchise. Although being a sequel, it does attempt to bring new light to its franchise by portraying its main protagonist (Jackie Chan), as somewhat of a broken hero. Its action sequences live up to today’s standards, however its computer generated effects do not. The score and writing for some of its characters also require major overhauls.