Jackie Chan cops out

Jackie Chan cops out
Jackie Chan as China cop Zhong Wen in Police Story 2013. The movie’s bloopers show the action star having more difficulty with the dialogue than any particular manoeuvre

The story: China cop Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) makes his way to a bar, where he is meeting his estranged daughter Miao Miao (Jing Tian). Things get hairy when bar owner Wu Jiang (Liu Ye) prevents the patrons from leaving and holds them captive. It turns out that Zhong had crossed paths with a few of the hostages before. And Wu is determined to get to the bottom of an old case.

Adventure thriller CZ12 (2012) was supposed to be Jackie Chan's last major action film. But without his trademark daredevil stunts, is a Jackie Chan film still worth watching?

In this case, not quite.

To be clear, Police Story 2013 still has action sequences, just fewer and nothing that is likely to result in a loss of life or limb for the famously - some would say recklessly - gungho star.

In his best films, such as Project A (1983) and Armour Of God (1986), the NG (no-good) blooper reels at the end were highlights packed with action. Among Police Story 2013's bloopers, Chan seems to have more difficulty with the dialogue than any particular manoeuvre.

To execute a scene in which he tries to free himself from being bound to a chair with metal wires, it takes him several takes and only bloodied wrists.

The focus is very much on the plot, so too bad it comes up a little short.

There is some suspense built up at the beginning, when you wonder who Wu Jiang is and why has he taken the trouble to mount such an elaborate set-up.

Besides holding people hostage in the bar and making sure that Zhong is on the premises, he also demands to meet a specific hostage.

Once the pieces fall into place, there is an attempt at a Rashomon-type recreation of an old case.

One by one, those who are present that night add to the story of what went down and gradually fill in the puzzle.

When the mystery is finally unveiled, though, it feels like writer-director Ding Sheng is making a mountain out of a molehill.

And the question of why such an elaborate set-up is necessary in the first place is never really answered.

For the ending to be nicely sewn up, a new character has to be conveniently introduced at the last minute.

In films such as A Beautiful Life (2011), Liu Ye has shown that he can act; here, he is hampered by ham-fisted characterisation.

Although Chan's role is better sketched out (the absent father element seems to have been drawn from his own life), Ding's previous collaboration with him in action comedy Little Big Soldier (2010) was less laboured and more fun.

And by the way, why call this Police Story 2013 when it has nothing to do with the four comedy-action Police Story films made between 1985 and 1996, or even New Police Story, 2004's darker reboot?

Doing so merely feels like a cop-out, not to mention draws attention to the fact that Chan's best films are behind him.


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