New Police Story (2004)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2010-10-31
"New Police Story" has a lot going for it. It is full of great stunts and outstanding fights that are beautifully choreographed and shot. Jackie Chan looks almost as athletic and powerful as ever and has some melodramatic scenes in which he looks anguished and heartbroken. There is a zany sidekick well played by Nicholas Tse, a long suffering (and eventually really suffering) girlfriend impersonated by Charlie Yeung, a band of bad guys who are truly evil led by Daniel Wu. His Joe Kwan makes Norman Bates look like a sympathetic character. Charlene Choi stays as cute as a pool of baby otters while Yu Rong-Guang is craggy and tough.

The action includes a bus smashing through cars, phone booths and shopping malls like a battering ram never slowing down for a moment. The bus causes plate glass windows to shatter simply by driving past them and takes Inspector Chan for a merry ride. Andy On, whose greatest fan I am not, does very well as Chan's main unarmed combat opponent. Enough small arms ordinance is expended to keep Smith and Wesson humming for a few shifts. Settings are used creatively: in addition to the bus there is a running fight in a Lego museum, a terrific stand-off pitting Tse and Chan against a bunch of thugs in a bar using trays of glassware, buckets of ice and a barstool although not in the typical Jackie Chan co-opting of industrial objects--partially assembled cars, for example, or the tools in an auto repair shop. Here the fighters just grab whatever is at hand--ice, beer steins, furniture--and hit the other guy with it.

The last action scene is full of wretched excess from it setting on the roof of a building that looks like a knock-off of the Sidney Opera House constructed from cheap sheet metal to the by the numbers confrontation of Joe Kwan junior and Joe Kwan senior to the finale with its deus ex machina appearance of firefighters to save Chan and Frank Cheng from plummeting to their deaths. The officially official engagement of Chan and Ho Yee (she had returned his ring before she was almost killed, barely survived a bomb attack that put her in a coma and disfigured her face) involves a cast of hundreds of police officers and hospital workers and is so insanely romantic that only the most cynical would be unmoved.

The real problems of "New Police Story" are with the script-or at least that part of the script which is "stuff between actions scenes". The writing is so weak, so predictable and so poorly motivated that it falls attention to its shortcomings--what should serve as graceful transitions between slaughtering policemen and rappelling down the side of a skyscraper while wearing inline skates is instead a clunky mess that makes one wish Jackie Chan and company had cut 45 minutes from the movie and just strung the action scenes together with explanatory title cards between them for those who were interested in why the bloodshed was happening.

In a couple of cases the problem isn't with "New Police Story" itself but with its genre--the Hong Kong police are not only unable to secure their own headquarters against a cop killing maniac with a bomb wrapped as a present but they show him exactly where to go with it and then lot him escape. But something like that had to happen since Chan and Ho Yee needed to reconfirm their love while trying to disarm a very treacherous explosive since action movies with a lone wolf hero fighting an implacable and ubiquitous enemy are characterized the world over by incompetent police forces.

Less forgivable is the rationale given for Joe Kwan's hatred of the police--it's Oedipal in a vulgar sense but never credible; the reason for Frank Cheung's total devotion to Inspector Chan--it's creepy but unbelievable or why the gang of cop killers were allowed into the jail to taunt Chan. The script of an action movie doesn't have to be a narrative masterpiece but spectacular effects should have plausible causes at least within the frame of reference of the film itself.

"New Police Story" is still a very enjoyable movie. A runaway monster bus smashing into a truck and pushing it along with its cargo of yellow rubber ducks into Hong Kong harbor covers a lot of sins.
Reviewer Score: 7