'Police Story 2' - Movie Review

Many years ago I saw "Police Story," one of Jackie Chan's better known efforts from his Hong Kong period. This is the first sequel to that very popular movie, which I somehow hadn't seen (I've seen nearly all of Chan's movies prior to 2000, even the earliest and worst). The biggest surprise happened when I picked the movie up at the library: "Police Story" and "Police Story 2" in one package, issued by ... the Criterion Collection. For those not familiar with Criterion, they release DVDs of what they call "important classic and contemporary films," and their discs are uniformly of excellent quality (bad subs replaced with good, all film quality issues fixed, expert commentaries ...). I don't disagree with their assessment (Jackie Chan has been hugely influential not only in Hong Kong but on fight choreography, stunts, and action movies in general), I just associate Criterion with art house, not martial arts movies ...

The plot is much the same as the first movie. Jackie Chan plays Chan Ka-kui, an effective but short-tempered Hong Kong cop. A threat to blow up a mall allows for lots of chases, explosions, and fights.

The drama - such as it is - is silly, and given no time whatsoever to develop. But that's not why you put this disc in the drive, is it? I watch Chan's movies for the spectacular stunts and especially the balletic martial arts. Chan thinks we watch partially because of the humour: he's right when it's action-humour, and wrong when he tries to do plain comedy. At least he didn't spend as much time humiliating his girlfriend (Maggie Cheung) in this one as he did in the last, although she doesn't go unscathed.

This movie has a boat load of explosions, which I didn't find particularly interesting. There's a huge long set-piece fight at the end, and it's impressive but not one of my favourites. I much preferred the playground fight at about the 1/3rd mark: it show-cased Chan's incredible agility and use of props (as well as his amazing crew of dedicated stunt men / fighters) better than the closing blockbuster. Not his best movie, but fairly good.