Police Story
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Jackie Chan
Year:
1985
Run Time:
96 mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
2.48:1 - should be 2.35:1
Region:
PAL 2 & 4
Genre:
Action / Comedy - 15 (UK)
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MOVIE
10/10

Coming up with a plot synopsis for Jackie Chan's 1985 cop-socky classic is pretty much a waste of time. Partly because there's very little plot to speak of, but also because if you're a Jackie fan, you'll have already seen/bought this.
The plot - cop catches drug dealers, drug dealers are released and want revenge, cop recaptures drug dealers - is hardly state of the art, but Chan's energy and inventiveness is what grabs, and keeps, your attention throughout.

Opening with a superb downhill car slalom, and ending with a stunning shopping-mall battle, Police Story still holds up perfectly to repeated viewing.
Although the film sags slightly in the middle, with comedy routines taking centre stage, the movie culminates with some of Jackie's best stunt and fight choreography.

The film's saddest aspect is the plight of its female stars.
Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin are both quite exceptional actresses, but as is all too frequent in Jackie's self-directed efforts, their characters are always on the periphery of things.
Maggie Cheung cries and whines, whilst Brigitte is thrown through plate glass. Hhhmmm, not exactly empowering roles for the ladies...
Although Chan finally put paid to these thankless female roles with the introduction of Michelle Yeoh in Police Story 3, it is still the series greatest weakness. And that it is Maggie Cheung whose talent is given no chance to shine, should be a crime worthy of the prison stretch.

Despite that criticism, it's Jackie's raw energy which really drives the film on.
For pure Hong Kong entertainment, few films have managed to recapture the hugely satisfying feeling produced as the end credits roll, and your adrenaline is left surging through your veins.

PICTURE
7/10

Now, I perfectly understand the situation with Hong Kong cinema and its almost non-existent preservation of film stock, but I'm going to be reviewing this disc "as is".

Whilst detail levels are superb - far superior to any other version currently available - and the film's colour reproduction is very well handled, there are a number of distracting elements to this transfer.

Aside from yet another poorly placed layer-change, the large amount of grain exhibited throughout is particularly annoying, as are some sparkles and marks which appear on the print.
Due to this grain, the image's black and background elements are almost constantly "shimmering", and above all else, this effect is the most distracting.
Also, the image seems to be slightly vertically "squashed", leaving everyone looking somewhat stocky. After measuring the aspect ratio, it appears to be around 2.48:1, rather than what it should be - 2.35:1 - and I've no idea why this should be the case.

As I mentioned above, I'm reviewing this transfer as I find it, and this is reflected in its score.
I admit that this is certainly the sharpest and most detailed representation you'll have seen to date, but it's far from definitive.

SOUND
7/10

Using Media Asia's slightly re-scored and totally botched 5.1 remix, and attempting to re-remix it was either brave or stupid of HKL. Personally, I'd go for the former, as they provide a competent soundtrack which has few negative aspects.
Although the opening scenes of the film sound very muffled and lack clarity, the remainder of the Chinese soundtrack is well above average.
Music is mostly represented through the front and rear surrounds, and although it can at times be rather overpowering, that makes for a largely successful Dolby Digital soundtrack.

SUBTITLES
5/10

For the most part, the subtitles are excellent, with accurate and well written translations of the film's dialogue. However, on a number of occasions its translations are completely alien to what has been spoken on screen.
For instance, on the rooftop, after Ka-Kui has helped Salina escape, Danny says to Ka-Kui: "Kid, you're good...". In the HKL subs, this is translated as "you little prick. We'll teach you".
There is also another utterly ridiculous moment during the courtroom scene where Chan answers "No" and the subs say "Yes"!

I've no idea who was responsible for decisions to change the dialogue like that, but whoever it was should be fired.
The number of times this problem has arisen in HKL subtitles means that someone is either consciously making decisions to change the translations used, or someone isn't capable of translating the dialogue correctly. Either way, I think it's about time changes were made...

PACKAGING
4/10

Quite possibly the worst cover art HKL have produced so far...The dreadful picture of Chan, which adorns the front cover, makes it look like one of Eastern Heroes repackaged Jackie Chan DVD's...and that's NOT a compliment.
The reverse is somewhat better, but isn't particularly eye-catching.

EXTRAS
7/10

Out-Takes Montage
A lot has been made about the Japanese Laserdisc's alternate opening, closing and out-take sequences, and although HKL were unable to secure the rights to the alternative opening sequences, they provide alternative ending and credits.
This is oddly presented, with the letter-boxed, non-Anamorphic image shifted to the top of the screen, much like some of 'Made In Hong Kong's VHS presentations.
We're also treated to the massive Japanese, non-removable subtitles. However, this is the sort of "extra" which Hong Kong DVD's are crying out for, and as such it's a great addition.

Animated Biography
In a departure from the much maligned 'scrolling text and voice-over' format used in previous discs, HKL go for a 'spoken word and video-clip' presentation.
Whilst the voice-over is as awful as ever, turning the sound off so you can watch the clips from Jackie's movies is a good trade-off.
Action scenes from Police Story 1, 2 & 3, Project A, Drunken Master, Snake In The Eagle's Shadow, Armour Of God, City Hunter, Battle Creek Brawl, Miracles, Island Of Fire are shown over the 30 minute biography, and I took great pleasure in muting the sound and watching the clips.

Trailer Selection
The (for once superior) HKL Police Story trailer is provided along with the original theatrical trailer, as are HKL trailers for Miracles, Battle Creek Brawl, Armour Of God and City Hunter

Photo Gallery

Finally!! A photo gallery worth looking at. 32 images, which feature behind-the-scenes shots, lobby cards and photos.

Jackie Chan Interview
A 20 minute chat, in which Jackie recalls his time working on Police Story.
Apart from revealing his script-writing procedure, Chan also revisits the shopping centre used in the films, and describes his feelings about the now famous 'pole-slide'
This is a very welcome addition to the disc and really shows a side to Chan which is rarely touched upon - he's no superhuman, just very brave and slightly mad!!


Commentary
So, the burning question is......can Bey Logan put together another great commentary? Unfortunately....he can!!
Quite how Logan manages to keep recalling all the facts and anecdotes that he does is anyone's guess, but once again his commentary overshadows all of the other extras, due to its quality.

Further Attractions

The Big Boss • Fist Of Fury • Way Of The Dragon
• Game Of Death • Once Upon A Time In China 2 In The Line Of Duty • Iron Monkey • Purple StormIron Fisted Monk2000AD

CONCLUSION
7/10

To buy or not to buy, that is the question.....
Ok, this could look better. And ok, it could sound better. And ok, it could be translated better. But apart from that, it's perfect...
In all honesty, you'd be hard pressed to find anything which comes close to this HKL presentation of Police Story, and to pass it up in order to wait for a better release would be silly.
But just don't go expecting this to be the definitive DVD you were hoping for.

MOVIE 10/10
PICTURE
7/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
5/10
EXTRAS
7/10
MENUS
7/10
PACKAGING
4/10
OVERALL
7/10