In the plethora of Jackie Chan stunt scenes to choose from, the bus disaster in New Police Story may be the most visually stunning. In chasing down a murderer through the streets of Hong Kong, Chan jumps on top of a bus full of passengers, the driver shot dead.
Uncontrolled, the bud careens into a small shopping district, plowing through glass structures, store fronts, pushing cars aside, blasting stalls, and crushing an overhead canopy before colliding with a truck carrying countless rubber duckies, all of them spilling into a river.
Words make it difficult to comprehend because they cannot describe the sheer audacity of even attempting this scene naturally, minus the green screen or computer-generated wizardry of US productions. Chan leaps off a thinly sloped overhang, swings across a sign, and jumps through a window all while the bus is still at full speed.
Chan’s inventiveness knows no bounds, taking one of his trademark frantic, absurdly fast-paced brawls into a Lego store, knocking over entire creations, a ball pit, and balloon overhang. It is as exciting as it is visually striking.
New Police Story is about more than action, a departure for Chan who obviously was interested in deeper, fulfilling roles. Feeling responsible for the graphic, bloody, and violent deaths of his entire squad, Chan is a careless drunk. Scenes of Chan vomiting in a dim, dirty alley are a far cry from his usual perkiness and energy.
The plot uses a few contrivances to work, including two purse snatchings in the same alley on different days, incredibly with Chan right there to witness them both. These script faults are used to develop characters, offering more than paper-thin cutouts of the police. Even the villains, a group of extreme-sport enthusiasts who lust for thrills, have significant reasons for their actions eliciting an audience reaction.
Coming out of New Police Story, the action scenes remain the lasting memory. However, remembering their emotional impact is a successful sign as well. Seeing Chan risk his life to save his partner’s dead bodies from an explosion is not just a mind-blowing stunt, but a heroic, character building act that leaves an indelible impression.
New Police Story arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, and the results are sub-par at best. Some filtering is evident from the opening scenes, resulting in some notable ringing around high contrast edges. Facial close-ups reveal some significant smearing and even light artifacting. The grain structure can appear unnatural or briefly frozen. Flesh tones are typically pink. Some DNR is undoubtedly at work, although film grain is still lightly noted.
Colors are subdued, even in the Lego shop, where vibrant reds fail to generate any noticeable pop. Black levels are minimal, settled mostly in a gray scale. The image is consistently flat and dull. Print damage, limited to small white specks, are worth noting but a small intrusion.
Long, sweeping shots of Hong Kong over the credits are soft, generally the rule of this AVC encode. A noisy shot prior to the introduction of the villains is undoubtedly a result of the digital effects used to create it. Detail is generally minimal, with flat, barely textured faces. High fidelity detail is at a premium here, and hardly well defined when evident.
Despite the mediocre video, Lionsgate’s biggest gaffe is not including an original Cantonese language uncompressed mix. Only the inconsistent English dub has a DTS-HD mix, while the original dialogue is presented in compressed DTS.
Regardless of the choice, this effort has serious problems, significantly pushing the rears resulting in unnatural and forced surround effects. Listen as the warehouse blows up. The camera is clearly in front of Chan as he runs towards it with the explosions behind him, yet the fronts are swallowed by the surrounds. There is little to no discernable separation here.
Gunfire and bullets likewise sound artificially loud, pinging off objects unseen during an early shoot-out with the police. The score bleeds significantly into the surrounds, leaving the fronts overwhelmed. Dialogue is flat and at times difficult to hear. Stereo channels offer no directionality in the fronts.
Two scenes offer a picture-in-picture commentary from Chan, although the video turns to standard definition. A generic making-of runs a little over 15-minutes. A funny look at Chan dubbing in the studio is the best of the lot, entertaining and funny during its seven minutes runtime. Trailers remain.