Police Story 2: Collector's Edition (US - DVD R1)
Detective Chan is back in the explosive follow up to his first monster hit..
After whomping all over the bad guys in Police Story, detective Chan is in the doghouse for property destruction and gross misconduct. He's cut down to traffic duty, which he grudgingly takes to only to find out the man he sent to prison has been released. Chan's mortal enemy harasses his girlfriend and generally makes life difficult, but when Chan quits out of frustration with the system a new threat is born. Could his nemesis be behind the destruction rocking Hong Kong?
A few months back I saw Police Story for the first time and liked it a lot more than I had intended. In that review I said something about how I'd seen Police Story 2 and Police Story 3: Supercop, and that part two was a boring rehash without very much action and was best left unwatched. I have no idea what film I was talking about, but it wasn't Police Story 2, and I'm admitting here that I was very, very wrong. Supercop is still the best of the three, but the second chapter in Jackie Chan's star making series is no pushover.
Police Story 2 was a movie made with the sole purpose of topping its predecessor, and on most levels it succeeds. The stunts are even larger, the punches and kicks are harder, and the characters are generally further developed. The sheer amount of explosive pyrotechnics is somewhere between Die Hard and Terminator 2, and at the time was a revelation for the Hong Kong film industry (or so I'm told by our friend Bey Logan).
The storyline is a direct continuation of the first film, taking place seemingly only days after the events that saw Chan beating (up) the bad guys. The overall plotting this time around is a little weaker, and basically consists of a series of ideas tossed about with a thin unifying narrative. The inclusion of the original film's baddies basically screams ‘red haring’, but the attempt at broadening the film's focus is admirable. Though the film was made in a time when the idea was still fresh, I can't help but be a little bored by mad bomber plots at this point in my cinematic life, but switching gears from the tired Triad genre to mad bombing terrorists is also admirable in its own way. Whether the scripts for Police Story 2 and The Dead Pool were written in complete ignorance of each other is probably up for debate, but it is amusing that both films, released the same year, feature RC cars wired to explode.
Artistically speaking Police Story 2 is a step up for Chan, who employs some great, almost Orson Welles-esque angled shots, and sometimes utilizes his widescreen frame as well as a master like Sergio Leone. According to our commentator this was one of the first Hong Kong films to employ steady-cam, and there are even a few single long take scenes. This robs the film a bit of the original's grit, but is too much an improvement to ignore.
The first Police Story still has a bit of an edge over the sequel because of its overall roughness, and the fact that I find it more fun to watch Chan finding his character than seeing him running with an already established one. Though part two has plenty of emotional sequences, including quite a few between Chan and co-star (now dramatic superstar) Maggie Cheung, and a pretty intense torture sequence, the actual emotion of the story takes a distant backseat to the action. It ends up feeling a bit like uncut gristle between exciting set pieces. It was important for Chan to build the drama, but it makes for an overlong film.
The action is worth waiting for, and though Chan has since topped himself (especially in Police Story 3 and Armour of the Gods 2), these scenes of carnage are some of the best you'll ever see out of the era. It’s the spontaneity that sets the set pieces apart. One feels the impact of not only the punches, but of the impromptu car crashes and property destruction. We've seen it all since, but overall the film is not robbed of its intensity. Again, in the meagre complaint department is my admission that compared to the original it all comes off as a little too polished at times, which can rob a sequence of its real danger.
Police Story was a colourful and detailed transfer, but suffered from a whole heck of a lot of grain. This disc fairs better, maintaining the bright colours while doing away with the bulk of the grain. The image is very soft at times, but this appears to be due to the lighting and film stock choices Chan and his cinematographer made while filming originally. Sometimes it can appear as if objects are glowing.
The film shows its age, but still manages to look better than expected. The only overt issue is the blooming of vibrant reds and pinks, often the colours of objects of special focus on Chan's part (a child's ball, a flower). These were most likely meant to be brighter than the rest of the objects in frame, but the DVD's producers seem to have taken it a bit too far.
You've got three choices here: a tinny original Dolby Mono track, an echo chamber of a Dolby 5.1 track, and a 5.1 English dub. The sound of the film on the whole is pretty thin, so the 5.1 is rather unnecessary, and the occasional lip-sync problem is a little annoying. Overall it's a decent surround remix from an old source, but dialogue is artificial, and obviously on a separate track. The Mono track is tinny, but preferable overall, as most of the film's music and explosions aren't really all that audibly intense anyway.
Once again, as happened with their first Police Story release, Dragon Dynasty has included director Brett Ratner on the commentary track with Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan. I was rushed enough with this review that I didn't listen to the entire track, rather I jumped around, but it did appear that Ratner had a little bit more to say this time around. I'm thinking he actually hadn't seen the first film in a long time, and remembered part two more vividly. Still, Logan rules the track, and Ratner is entirely unnecessary.
The rest of the features are pretty fluffy, and very repetitive once one's listened to the commentary. The least fluffy extra is a thirty-plus minute retrospective with Jackie Chan's stunt team, Stunts Unlimited. In the featurette members of the team reminisce about the good times and the bad, but most of all they kiss Chan's butt. I don't blame them, of course, I'd do the same thing, but it's all a bit too celebrative and not quite informative as I'd like it to be.
Ratner and Logan have a brief featurette entitled ‘Celebrating a Sequel’ where they heap praise on the film, though most of this specific man-love was already covered in said commentary. Ratner actually takes some of what Logan states in the commentary and reappropriates it for himself. This is followed by a location guide, which consists of Logan wandering Hong Kong, in a stylish hat might I add, to show fans what various filming locations look like today (which is mostly the same as they did in 1988).
There is also an alternate version of the credit sequence outtake reel, which is only slightly different than the one that made the movie. For real hardcore Chan fans I suppose this is exciting. Things are finished off with a trailer.
Please ignore the crazy negative comments I made about Police Story 2 during my Police Story review, I have no idea what I was talking about. Here is another classic from Jackie Chan, presented decently from Dragon Dynasty. Those with non-anamorphic DVDs on the shelf may want to update for the video quality, but the extras and audio aren't must haves. Now I patiently wait for Police Story 3, which is probably the best one, assuming I'm remembering the correct film this time.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 13th February 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono Catonese
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Brett Ratner and Bey Logan Commentary, Stunts Unlimited: The Legendary Police story 2 Stunt Team, Location Guide, Celebrating a Sequel, Alternate Outtakes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jackie Chan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Kwok-Hung Lam, Benny Lai
Genre: Action and Crime
Length: 122 minutes
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