Film Reviews
Photo courtesy of Janus Films.

The last film in February for Webster University’s East Asian series is the 1985 “Police Story,” starring martial-arts expert Jackie Chan, who also directed and co-wrote. Chan’s incredible, gravity-defying stunts are integrated into fast-paced, deliriously wacky action that showcases Chan’s brilliant use of objects and locations.

Jackie Chan plays Hong Kong Special Forces Officer Ka-Kui Chan determined to shut down the largest, most insidious drug racket. The action launches quickly when a sting operation fails miserably, the undercover officers spotted and attacked. In pursuit of the gangsters, Ka-Kui Chan destroys an entire squatter village (as they call it), cars and people hurtling and vaulting down a hillside. In pursuit, Chan hangs from and somersaults into a speeding bus.

This is the first of several magnificent fight sequences to come, leading to a spectacular, multi-story mall finale that destroys glass display after glass display, with Chan leaping, sliding, somersaulting, rotating, and twirling as he battles the villains. Not confined to the physical alone, verbal antics add additional humor, including a comical courtroom interrogation gone terribly wrong. In other words, “Police Story” is classic Jackie Chan with a looney-tunes plot all in the service of Chan’s inimitable, superhuman gymnastic and athletic ability.

As director of “Police Story” as well as star, the complimentary comparison of Jackie Chan to Buster Keaton is obvious. Both offer ingenious, intricate sequences. As informatively analyzed on David Bordwell’s website, Chan’s dynamic movement, always presents clear, precise, choreographed, rhythmic action synchronized to the characters’ movement, “plucking out items of a set and sweeping them into action” integrated into suspenseful pauses. A bonus, the credits include behind-the-scenes planning. In Cantonese with English subtitles, the sublime “Police Story” screens at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium one night only, Tuesday, February 27, at 7:00.  For more information, you may visit the film series website.

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