It’s been two years since Police Story 2013 released in Hong Kong, but now it’s getting a state’s release and retitled Police Story: Lockdown. I’ll admit, having followed it’s 2013 release I kind of thought that this was newer. Makes me wonder what the fourth Police Story is because I don’t recall seeing it… maybe it did… was there a computer game killing people or something? I don’t know. Lockdown stands out from the other Police Story installments because it’s a very serious film. Clearly after playing a goof for so many years, star Jackie Chan, wanted something different from the role. Which is a shame because the other installments where fun. In fact, they still are some of the best action films of this current generation of action stars that have once again become popular or in Chan’s case, never ceased being popular. My personal favorite is Super Cop, because it was my first taste of the franchise. It was fun. It was entertaining and had incredible action while also having a story that was believable. Believable in the sense that it could happen in this world that they were presenting.
Lockdown on the other hand is gritty, dark and borderline depressing. It’s a very serious movie and takes on some decently heavy subject matter or at least subject matter that you wouldn’t typically associate with either A) the Police Story franchise or B) Jackie Chan. And it’s not that Chan can’t do a serious role, it’s that everything is extremely serious to the point that it stops being believable. That and Chan’s never allowed to be that dark.
And it could have been a very serious movie if the cinematography wasn’t actively ruining the fight scenes and if the editing wasn’t trying to confuse you about what film you were watching. I’ll explain the former first.
There is a fight scene that happens just before the third act of the film. This fight is really the first and only time that Chan squares off with a fighter in the film. And they’re put in a cage. It’s Jackie Chan in a cage fight with a huge dude that we learned previously was involved in death matches… and clearly he lived because here he is. The fight starts off slow and then drags on for a while. The only interesting thing that happens is Chan’s head going through class and other objects in the cage and the film capturing this in slow motion.
But wait… no, that’s not interesting.
This is a Jackie Chan film.
Jackie Chan doesn’t need slow motion unless he’s going too fucking fast and we as the audience can’t see what just happened. We don’t need slow motion to impress us during a fight. In the end, the fight turns out to be boring and shot terribly. You’ll honestly think that Christopher Nolan filmed it because the camera is on top of the two men the entire time.
As for the editing… were to begin? The film has these moments in which we see Chan’s character thinking about the possibility of what could happen given a certain situation. That in and of itself isn’t bad, but the problem is, it stops being effective when the story also cuts away to different cases that Chan’s character has worked on. He’s trying to figure out who the villain is and what he wants from him. The problem is you can’t or rather shouldn’t have both devices because then you begin to wonder if the flashbacks are really just jumbled thoughts in Chan’s head and then you’re left wondering why you’re seeing either. In fact, you really only needed the flashbacks, but there’s a problem with them as well.
Before I get into the flashbacks I have to set the stage for the story. Chan’s daughter has asked for him to meet her at a club to introduce her new boyfriend which ends up being a trap. Now, Chan and the club goers (including his oblivious daughter) are being held hostage.
The movie intentionally traps itself in this one location, be it a rather large location. Then it’s as if the film makers realized that staying in this one location was pretty boring and wouldn’t provide much in terms of action and that eventually the tension would be lost on everyone. They basically tried to do The Raid and realized they hadn’t set up the story in a way that they could. Enter the flashbacks. None of these flashbacks serve a purpose other than showing that Chan’s character is a hell of a cop. And they could have been fun. But instead he’s serious Jackie Chan and so he’s got the same stern look on his face the entire time.
There is one point in the film that you should be able to figure out and call the rest of the film. I know I was able to and I was thankful that I did. If I hadn’t I don’t know if I would have cared about finishing the film. I basically stuck around to see if I was right and I was.
If you’re a Jackie Chan fan, then you’ll probably find some enjoyment with this film. There’s enough diehards out there that can suffer through anything he does and walk away smiling. But if you’re a hardcore Police Story fan… well I would probably avoid this one since it is the weakest one in the franchise and I say that as someone who doesn’t really remember seeing the fourth one. But if you love those first three then you’ll be highly disappointed by this new direction and maybe even wonder why they decided to call it “Police Story” to begin with.
Police Story: Lockdown Director: Ding Sheng Released by: WellGoUSA Format: Blu-Ray/DVD Price: $29.98/$24.98 Release Date: 8/11/15