Jackie Chan is the sloppiest undercover cop ever, or in the case of this rather abysmal US cut, sloppiest supercop ever. He’s nearly caught in a lie about his hometown, one step shy of being uncovered speaking to his partner on a boat, and is then relentlessly hunted down by his girlfriend poolside who has yet to be clued in to what her boyfriend is actually doing. So much for closing all potential loopholes.
The US translation of Supercop III trims a myriad of exposition sequences with an attempt at keeping the action flowing at a more furious pace, and mercifully trim the amount of dubbing required. The editing feels stunted, the narrative too chopped up, and the deletion of certain dialogue threads pushes this one forward too quickly. Edits take the viewer to various locales with little sense of how or why (also a problem with the original), while the film just skips happily along as if nothing is wrong. It’s utterly amazing what just a few minutes of screen time can do.
It doesn’t help either that the opening credits are brazen and seizure-inducing, the type of introduction that proves off-putting within seconds of the text crawl. It’s sort of like if the ’90s vomited up all of its neon-inspired zaniness and overlaid it on some film frames. Slap in some uninspired and disastrously out of character hip hop and Tom Jones take on “Kung Fu Fighting,” and it’s set up for total disaster.
Bastardization or not, Supercop doesn’t cut out Jackie Chan or his stunt work. The finale to Supercop is a marvel, involving an intense helicopter ladder ride cross-city, train stunts, fantastic slapstick martial arts, and one of the more suitable deaths for an on-screen villain ever. There’s a sense of legitimate danger, so often forgotten as we enter an age of all green screen effects, Chan suspended precariously as the ‘copters ladder twists and bends in a way that no ladder should (let alone one hanging like that).
Like almost everything Chan took a starring role in come the ’90s, Supercop has an energy and a comedic wit about it, the type of charm that only comes with a rare talent. No amount of dubious dubbing can dilute that.
Miramax licensed out Supercop to Echo Bridge, that a mistake in and of itself with a respectable version on DVD from Dragon Dynasty (although that is also the US version). Sadly, they chose not to release a Blu-ray, and whatever Echo Bridge has slapped together is what we get. “Slapped together” fits too, as not only is the print utilized in rather dim condition at times, scratches, specks, and dirt far too common, it’s the wrong aspect ratio too. Supercop is poorly cropped from 2.35:1 to 1.78:1, a throwback almost to the days of VHS pan and scan. Not only is the fight choreography minimized, characters are regularly talking off-screen, or a mere portion of their face is all that’s seen.
The AVC encode itself isn’t a masterpiece either, produced with what appears to be almost no concern for adequate compression. A whole 15GB is utilized for the entire film, the grain structure breaking down with alarming regularity. What may initially seem pleasing turns into a mess later on, the restaurant sequence near the 40-minute mark suffering from ghosting and hazy artifacting. There’s also a hint of edge enhancement at work, the escape from the coal mine bringing that problem to the forefront.
Color saturation looks to be elevated as well, reds during the early training session overcooked and bleeding out. Flesh tones veer slightly warm, although not in any offensive manner. Black levels carry only mild inconsistencies, and just prior to the unforgettable helicopter ride, contrast seems to be boosted. The concrete roofs and bright clothing worn by Chan are bleached too aggressively. Then again, maybe that’s merely part of the original film. Tough to tell.
Yes, we should probably be somewhat pleased that a grain structure does exist; after all, if they’re going to crop it for a certain audience, that same crowd who could care less about composition certainly doesn’t care about grain structures either. It’s actually amazing they didn’t try and sharpen up all of the edges of the frame, where the lens loses that pristine focus. Still, there shouldn’t be any conversation about being lucky with regards to what Echo Bridge didn’t do, but what they did, and beyond cropping, it doesn’t seem like anything.
As if the video wasn’t offensive enough, the only track available is a DTS-HD English dub. No subtitles of any kind, least of all those for the original dialect, which wouldn’t make much sense anywhere since Cantonese isn’t part of the dub anyway. It’s sort of pathetic honestly, companies slowly getting the message from consumers about truncated US versions, alternate languages, etc. Dragon Dynasty showed some respect in this regard, Sony even hopped on the bandwagon and released their slate of Godzilla films all without tampering. Then, someone like Echo Bridge does something like this… sigh.
Enough ranting though, as Supercop qualifies as tolerable if nothing else. The stereo mix affords space between the two channels, the rather hefty shoot-out at 52-minutes enough to prove it. Guns are fired out of a specific speaker, and where needed, track side to side. It’s effective, and while fidelity is strained (the original cut of the film came out in 1992), little is lost to age other than the upper echelon of crispness.
If anything, the dubbing is the only thing offensive here, dialogue elevated unnaturally and at times exaggerated in an attempt to match up the environment. While balanced amidst the action, explosions, punches, and gunfire, speaking in general terms, it’s completely out of place.
There’s one extra on the disc, and it’s not even listed on the case. There’s a half hour (English) interview with Michelle Yeoh, under the pseudonym Michelle Kahn. While dry, the information is interesting enough that it gets a pass.