Jackie Chan’s Police Story series moves into the thriller genre

Jackie Chan returns to a series which made him famous, if without the stunts that made IT famous. Age will do that. Police Story: Lockdown picks at Chan’s age, a martial arts action star understandably slowing into his 60s, leading to a film deriving its tension not from flailing punches, but thriller tactics. An overarching theme of time seems all too appropriate and aware.

Much of the feature is draped in colorful gimmickry, setting its hostage scenario in a gaudy bar laced with LED chandeliers and piranha tanks, mostly a decorated hang out for Hong Kong’s Millennials. There are ceiling cages, multiple floors, and overly architectural rooms off to the side – a structure which would only exist for Chan to enact his own mini-Die Hard. Twenty or thirty years ago, Chan would have been sliding down every pole and rappelling from every string of lights. Its a playground for a master. Time changes all.

Flashbacks break from the setting. They’re brief, existing to imbue Chan’s Zhong Wen with an impossible sense of merit. Wen will save anyone no matter the circumstances. Police Story is explicitly proud of the bravery put forth by public servants. It’s a cautious film where violence is held until a breaking point. Cops are depicted as sensible, mature, and restrained. The concept is certainly foreign.

Chan’s antagonist is a measured and tactical bar owner, Wu Jiang (Ye Liu). The pair duel – mostly with words – until the narrative untangles all of the reasons during the climactic chapter. They both prove to be capable performers. Chan seems rarely credited for dramatic skill, shown here in a display of emotions, none of it dropping toward slapstick humor. Liu is primed as a capable story catalyst despite the character’s improbably elaborate scheme.

Disconnected from the rest of the series – it’s Police Story in name only – the film seems freed to do as it pleases, pulling together a proficient set of characters who need not be connected for the purposes of adjoining action scenes, rather the central story.

…the pay-off is grand, a wild and oversold piece of explosion cinema.

As a hostage tale, Police Story meanders. There is a missing sense of rising tension or stakes. The few included martial arts brawls feel arbitrary too, but arguably necessary given Chan’s status. Once deep into the climax though, the pay-off is grand, a wild and oversold piece of explosion cinema where flames keep slipping into the frame. Then, a Hollywood ending which solidifies Wen as the hero, a pleasing end for a film which appeared to be slinking toward the darker side of things.

Police Story has value, although it would be nice to see Chan pass the series on to another capable Hong Kong action star. There are plenty to choose from. 2004’s wild New Police Story’s bus sequence would have been a riotous way to conclude Chan’s involvement (and celebrate some of the prior classics), but more Jackie Chan is never dull. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

It's okay. The barrel broke the fall @ 1:00:09

Originally, Police Story: Lockdown was produced in 3D. Well Go USA has not released such an edition in the States on Blu-ray. Instead, the company plops the two hour film onto a 2D only BD-25, and the results are generally satisfying. While the opening credits are worrisome, with notable flicker as they zoom into the screen, the issue resolves once into live action.

Cinematography was handled digitally. Little hides the effect. Police Story is glossy and limiting in high-frequency detail outside of close-ups. There, fidelity shows through. Lighting schemes help, as does the mostly noise-free imagery.

Still, the bar is an impressive sight. The multitude of light sources make for a dazzling display. Despite a slight bloom effect, images showcase the production design in full. Aiding are black levels which only accentuate the light further.

Flashbacks lean heavily on color grading. One is brown, another teal, and then a final one orange. The rest feels marginally muted but the brighter hues carry weight. Flesh tones are clean with a slight tint. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Stereo channels are the dominant focus of the Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD track (a 2.0 is available as well, along with a dub), tracking voices as they pass off screen and pumping plentiful music into the sides.

Surrounds are reserved for hefty action scenes, notably a car chase in flashback where vehicles pan across the soundfield. The finale is active too, even if much is muted for a slow motion effect. Explosions, passing debris, and gunfire are well considered. A trip into the city’s subway system has some impact too, including a brief LFE flare up as the train passes. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Four short interview segments are separated, running a few minutes each. Chan and director Sheng Ding are both featured. A behind-the-scenes reel is a fun look at the shoot lasting five minutes. Trailers are left. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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