Film Review: Police Story 2 (1988)

Release Date: August 20th, 1988 (Hong Kong)
Directed by: Jackie Chan
Written by: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang
Music by: Michael Lai, Tang Siu Lam
Cast: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Charlie Cho

Golden Harvest, Media Asia Group, 101 Minutes 

Review:

I was a big fan of Police Story, as a kid, but I never saw this one until now. I’m glad I did, as it bridges the gap between the original film and the third one, which was released theatrically in the United States as Supercop.

This chapter in the series is a true continuation of the first movie and it features much of the same cast. It goes deeper into the relationship between Chan’s Chan Ka-kui and his girlfriend May, played by the returning Maggie Cheung. It also shows the repercussions of Chan’s actions from the first film, as he starts out being demoted to traffic patrol.

The version I got to see of this film was in its native language and subtitled, which was a huge improvement over the dubbed version of the original Police Story, which I have watched for years. Although, the subtitles kept referring to Inspector Chan Ka-kui as “Kevin”.

This film is not as good as the original but it is still a solid Chan flick. It is tamer in nature and not nearly as gritty as its predecessor. The humor, while still there, seems to be a bit toned down too. It is still a lighthearted movie but the slapstick shtick is more reserved, even though the stunts still employ the typical Chan style.

Police Story 2 is a bit all over the place, from a narrative standpoint. It reintroduces old villains but then brings in some new ones. It just doesn’t seem to work and it feels like the addition of these new baddies, when it pops up, is sort of out of nowhere.

While most people don’t really watch Jackie Chan outings for a great story, a good narrative helps to set apart which of his films are in the upper echelon and which aren’t. In that regard, this one fails to live up to the standard bearer that is the first Police Story.

The stunts are still top notch and pretty impressive. Nothing is as iconic though, as the big finale of Police Story, the original. While the factory finale here is really good, it just doesn’t hit the mark like the shopping mall finale.

All things considered, if you love Chan, you will probably still really enjoy this picture. It came out in his prime and his athleticism and charm are incredible.

Rating: 7/10

Film Review: In the Mood for Love (2000)

Release Date: Septmeber 29th, 2000
Directed by: Wong Kar-wai
Written by: Wong Kar-wai
Music by: Michael Galasso, Shigeru Umebayashi
Cast: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung

Block 2 Pictures, Jet Tone Production, Paradis Films, Universal Pictures, 98 Minutes

Review:

“Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.” – Chow Mo-wan

Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love is a film that is beloved by many, especially those in the film industry. While I had heard people talk about it for the last decade or so, I didn’t experience it until I was taking a course on the history of Hong Kong cinema.

While it doesn’t resonate with me in the same way as many critics and filmmakers, it was a visual treat and stupendously acted by Hong Kong greats Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. I certainly can’t deny that this is a marvelous film, even if it isn’t my personal cup of tea. And frankly, the cinematography and the acting, kept me completely engaged for the duration of the film.

The story takes place in Hong Kong in 1962. It starts as two different couples are moving into the same building on the same day. Not soon after, we find out that the husband of one couple is cheating with the wife of another couple. The story doesn’t follow them, however. Instead, it follows the spouses who are being cheated on. They become dear friends and a strong bond develops without them crossing the line of infidelity. Eventually, their feelings develop into more of a romantic attraction but those feelings cannot be explored.

In the Mood for Love is a sad movie but it is also a movie about hope. It analyzes the emotions of these characters at a really intimate level and everything is just tastefully and respectfully handled, as the characters who are the victims of infidelity, don’t go the route of their spouses.

The story is pretty fresh and thus, quite interesting. It is hard taking this ride with the characters, as you develop a deep connection to both of them.

The real highlight of the motion picture, however, is its overall tone. From the cinematography, the lighting and the music used to bring 1962 Hong Kong to life, in a colorful and vivid manner, everything is just alluring and majestic. The film feels almost like a historical fantasy world even though the emotion and tragedy of the characters keeps you firmly rooted in reality.

In the Mood for Love is an exceptional picture and has gone on to influence other filmmakers from a narrative and visual standpoint. It is considered a true classic by many but Wong Kar-wai sort of has a knack for making high quality works of motion art.

Rating: 8/10

 

Film Review: Police Story (1985)

Release Date: December 14th, 1985 (Hong Kong)
Directed by: Jackie Chan
Written by: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang, Golden Way Creative Group
Music by: Michael Lai, Tang Siu Lam
Cast: Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Chor Yuen, Charlie Cho

Golden Harvest, Media Asia Group, 101 Minutes 

Review:

While I love Jackie Chan, there are few of his movies that I consider to be cinematic classics. Police Story is one of those movies.

This was the first Chan film I saw as a kid and even though it has really shitty English dubbing, I didn’t let that deter me, as I was caught up in the fantastic stunts and charmed by Chan’s comedic and bad ass charisma.

The bad dubbing makes some of the humor a lot more over the top and goofier than it was probably intended but Chan’s comedy style still comes through. While the film features a good amount of old fashioned violence, it is still lighthearted enough to not really cross a line. It is a good balance of the cinematic style of 1980s Hong Kong gangster films mixed in with Chan’s unique comedic shtick.

This film also features some of my favorite Jackie Chan stunts, most notably the infamous pole slide through the exploding lights in the mall courtyard. Overall, it features less stunts than his bigger films that would come later. It also isn’t as creative as some of those stunt spectacles but as time went on, Chan had to get bigger and better with each picture.

Police Story is a grittier movie than what most modern Chan fans might expect. He was inspired by the cinema trends surrounding him in the mid-80s and he still hadn’t mastered his style and found his perfect niche or formula. But the rawness of it is what makes it refreshing when compared to his lighter films that came after.

The story, in a nutshell, sees Chan have to protect a woman from mobsters that want to kill her before she testifies against them. It also features a sort of love triangle between the woman and Chan’s girlfriend, played by the talented Maggie Cheung.

Police Story was hugely successful and went on to spawn, not just a sequel, but a franchise. Overall, it is the longest running and best franchise that Chan was a part of. While it might not have made the money of the Rush Hour series, it far surpasses it in quality filmmaking.

Rating: 8/10