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New Police Story(2004)
Massive explosions and incredible stunts abound as Jackie Chan makes what many refer to as a comeback with this Chinese release. He plays the burned-out Inspector Wing, whose motivation died when the rest of his police team was wiped out at the hands of a wily and brutal new gang. When, against the odds, a rookie cop rouses the weathered Inspector to go after the gang, however, there is no stopping him until justice has been served.
For more about New Police Story and the New Police Story Blu-ray release, see New Police Story Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on December 12, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Daniel Wu
Director: Benny Chan Muk Sing
» See full cast & crew
New Police Story Blu-ray Review
The ageless action star returns to his roots.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, December 12, 2009
Jackie Chan deserves credit for elevating my interest in Chinese action films. I've always had a fascination with his earlier martial arts efforts (Battle Creek Brawl, Drunken Master), but I never anticipated he'd garner much of an audience on western shores until the release of Rumble in the Bronx. Mixing in wild (and dangerous) stunts was nothing new to Chan, but given the legal ramifications of actors engaging in dangerous stunts within the American studio system, western audiences were simply never exposed to his style of stunt work. I've no doubt enjoyed Jackie Chan's amazing physical presence and fearless nature throughout his subsequent career, but I have to wonder how he continues to fight off the hourglass of time. Most people with only a casual appreciation for his acting and stunt-work don't realize that at the time Rumble in the Bronx was released, we were watching a 41-year-old martial arts veteran leaping over motorcycles and climbing up walls using only his leg strength. Sitting down to watch New Police Story for the first time, I'm once again baffled by the fact that I'm watching a 50-year-old man gracefully kick and flip his way through one scene after another. I have a number of years before I'll turn 50, but Jackie Chan is officially my inspiration for avoiding the twilight years of life.
Following a well-staged bank heist, Senior Inspector Chan Kwok-Wing (Jackie Chan) takes a lead role in tracking down the culprits and bringing them to justice. After assembling a young team of fellow officers, they storm a warehouse where the young thieves are reportedly hiding. Once there, the officers become mice in an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse which ends in tragedy. Unable to save the lives of the junior officers in on his team (and forced to play games with their lives), the Inspector descends into a life of alcohol abuse and self-loathing. Approximately one year later, the disgraced Inspector is found at his lowest point when a newly graduated officer (Nicholas Tse) asks to be his partner. At first, Wing views this new partner as a nuisance, preferring his continued decent into sadness and regret, but once he digs back into the case and realizes things have become personal, he begins his own crusade to bring the cop-killers to justice.
As much as I enjoy Chinese martial arts productions, there are admittedly just as many stinkers as there are gems. Thankfully, due to tight production values, above average acting, and some truly rousing action sequences, the film manages to elevate itself into a "worth it" classification. That's not to say the film is without its fair share of faults. I know we can't expect Infernal Affairs level writing out of every Chinese cop story, but New Police Story isn't going to win any awards for the creativity of the plot, which is littered with the same detective show elements we've seen time and time again. For instance, there's a scene where Chan is tasked with stopping an out of control bus that's barreling down city streets and side markets (after the driver is shot). It makes for a thoroughly entertaining segment as he leaps onto the roof of the moving bus and eventually works his way into the main cabin, but at some point you have to wonder why one of the 50+ passengers on the bus don't stroll up and hit the brake pedal. By now, we know a Jackie Chan production won't leave a lasting impression due to dense storytelling, but then again that's not why we tune in.
If you're like me, the one element of a Jackie Chan production that consistently delivers in spades is the jaw-dropping use of stunts. New Police Story continues that trend, with a chase sequence down the side of a skyscraper hotel, a perilous stand-off on the top of a large domed convention center, and a warehouse explosion with tremendous potential for disaster. I've already touched on the bus sequence (likely the best segment in the film), but watching the scene for a second time, I had to marvel at the sheer destruction on display. From shattered windows to the eventual collision with a delivery truck, there's plenty of chaos to satisfy the dormant adrenaline junkie that resides in all of us.
Jackie Chan will never be mistaken for a top-tier actor, but his role in this film is one of the more demanding portrayals I can recall. Between his sentimental scenes with tears flowing, and several intensely emotional encounters with the heartless villains of the story, Chan demonstrates his ability to transcend his usual funny-guy antics. Since we still need a dose of light-hearted humor, the comic relief is delivered by Nicholas Tse (Time and Tide, Gen-X Cops), who acts as the positive counterweight in his role as Chan's upbeat partner. Tse has a likeable personality that works to gradually build the buddy chemistry between the two officers, which becomes an important component in the conclusion of the film. The ensemble cast is equally impressive in their respective roles, but I need to mention one actor in particular that really stands out. This is the first time I've seen a performance by Daniel Wu (he plays the main villain of the story), but I intend to keep my eyes open for this talented young gentleman in the future. His turn in New Police Story is both distant and psychotic, displaying a troubled nature that's two parts frightening and one part sad.
New Police Story Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 17Mbps), New Police Story has impressive visuals, though there are some occasional weaknesses in the presentation that I'll get to later. Fine object detail never appears exceptional, but there's a consistent level of clarity that remains vastly superior to the standard definition version. Likewise, the color spectrum never exhibits a hint of weakness, whether we're watching the cool blue hues of the early warehouse scene, or the colorful cityscape of the runaway bus encounter. Unfortunately, despite the strengths of the overall transfer, there are several deficiencies worth pointing out. First, the transfer appears overly bright during a significant portion of the runtime, leaving certain scenes with weak black levels, and contrast that struggles to differentiate between the light and dark aspects of the picture. Second, I noticed at least two instances of subtle (yet noticeable) edge enhancement when Jackie Chan was standing in front of a bright colored backdrop. There could have been other instances I didn't notice, but the problem is most apparent when you have a dark object in the foreground (such as black hair), with a plain white background. Closing out the disappointing aspects of the picture quality, there seems to be a slight drop in the presence of facial texturing from scene to scene. I'm not concerned about the use of DNR, since there's still plenty of film grain present in the transfer, but the lack of facial definition is still a bit disappointing.
Although my assessment of the transfer might sound harsh, fans should expect a large upgrade with this Blu-ray release, and will likely find it easy to shrug off the subtle deficiencies that pop up from time to time.
New Police Story Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As most of you know from my prior anime reviews, I prefer the native language track on foreign film productions, so I was clearly disappointed with the decision to include a lossy DTS track for the secondary Chinese option. Lionsgate likely assumed the American market would prefer the dubbed option, which explains their reasoning behind delivering a wonderful lossless mix on the English track, but I hope they reverse this trend on future releases (after all, they could easily bump this up to a dual-layered disc to allow adequate room for two lossless tracks). Regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, the English mix is truly exceptional. Given the many action sequences in the film, there's rarely a five-minute period that goes by without some degree of onscreen chaos. Since that's the main pull of the film, the audio presentation should complement the environmental effects of the various set pieces to create an immersive experience. Thankfully, that's never a problem here, as bullets can be heard zipping around the surround field (as they ricochet off walls and metal posts), while shattered glass rains down in perfect harmony. If there's one drawback to the audio presentation worth mentioning, it's the occasional volume imbalance in the dialogue. This should likely be attributed to the dubbing process and shouldn't diminish the overall experience, but it still presents a slight downgrade in an otherwise excellent track.
For those interested solely in the native language mix, you shouldn't pass on this release due to the lack of a lossless option. The DTS presentation still sounds open, and utilizes the surround field when needed. The only real difference is a slight drop in richness and clarity, coupled with a lower volume level (which is easily remedied). The one area where the Chinese track bests the English competition is in the volume balance of the dialogue, which never falls below ideal levels. As I mentioned above, this is probably due to the difference between the original recording and post-production dubbing, but at least there's one area where the Chinese option stands out.
New Police Story Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Scene Commentaries with Jackie Chan (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 6:31 min): The runaway bus sequence and the rooftop convention center sequence are played in their entirety with Jackie Chan window boxed in the corner of the picture to discuss random aspects of Hong Kong filmmaking. I really wish the commentary would have focused more on the stunt work in each scene, but I guess we have to take what we can get.
The Making of New Police Story (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 15:35 min): Consisting of interviews with the main cast and several crew members, this supplement is more of a marketing featurette than a behind-the-scenes look at the production. I appreciated the extensive footage of the camera crew on various set pieces, but having just watched the film, I could have done without an explanation of each character's motivations and personality. Big time Jackie Chan fans will appreciate this supplement, but those with only a casual interest will likely grow bored rather quickly.
English Dubbing with Jackie (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 7:15 min): In my opinion this is the best supplement on the disc, since it showcases a candid Jackie Chan working on his portion of the English dub. I'm sure he was filmed at length during the dubbing process, but they collected the best segments for this featurette.
Rounding out the extras, we have a high definition trailer collection for other Lionsgate titles, and the recent Blu-ray release of Stargate.
New Police Story Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're unfamiliar with Jackie Chan's Chinese productions, this might not be the best place to start. There's always a certain mix of tragedy and comedy in these films, but New Police Story delivers the tragedy in such a heavy dose that the comedy seems out of place. This is more of a cultural phenomenon than anything, but some viewers might be turned off by the constant shift in balance (unless you've already been initiated with Chan's countless prior works). From a stunt standpoint, this is another fine effort, and worth the price of admission just for the sheer entertainment value of the action sequences. If you'd consider yourself a long-time Jackie Chan fan, there's no reason to pass up an opportunity to own one of his better efforts in high-definition. However, if you're only familiar with Jackie Chan from his buddy roles with Chris Tucker or Owen Wilson, I'd suggest you take this entry for a rental spin before leaping into a purchase.
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