‘Police Story II’ Review

A sequel that is a notch below the original, yet still vastly entertaining.

Police Story II - Image courtesy of DeltamacChan Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) is in trouble. The police inspector has been busted to traffic cop because of all the expense he incurred on his previous case (well documented in POLICE STORY and recapped in the first few minutes of this picture). And his intense dedication to police work continues to cause problems with his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk). Just when it seems as though they’ve patched up their relationship, Ka-Kui is pulled back into the middle of a bomb extortion case that threatens the lives of thousands of Hong Kong citizens.

In the original POLICE STORY, the villain of the piece was a criminal mastermind. Most of the first half of this sequel focuses on the ganglord’s lawyer and his attempts at extracting revenge against Ka-Kui. In the first big set-piece, Ka-Kui dashes across multiple lanes of traffic only to be hit by a truck (!) before beating up the lawyer’s henchmen in a restaurant, ending with another truck smashing through what’s left of the entrance. Later, Ka-Kui must defend himself when attacked by even more of the lawyer’s henchmen in a park playground before being chased down a narrow alley by a pursuing automobile. As the story turns toward the bomb extortionists, the emphasis turns to well-staged explosions both big and small.

The action sequences are jam-packed with whirling inventiveness. They race by so quickly that it’s a marvel to consider how much time and thought must have been involved in choreographing and filming them. Words cannot capture the pleasure of watching Jackie Chan in prime physical condition, bouncing off and over people, places, and things. Yet the patchwork script commits a cardinal error by not providing a convincing villain. In the first part of the picture, the mob lawyer is more of a joke than a threat, and in the second half, the bomb extortion team lacks a single, unifying “evil leader with a plan.” Ah, well. The pace rarely lags, and, as a director, Jackie Chan knows well how to frame his action and keep the adrenaline pumping.

Among the supporting players, Benny Lai Keung Kuen stands out as a deaf mute member of the bomb extortionist team. Not only does he have a wicked way with explosives, he’s fully capable of defending himself with his fists, arms, and legs. Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk is on hand to cry and complain, with a memorable break-up scene in the men’s locker room at the police station. The outtakes that play with the closing credits reveal that she, too, bled for her art. Bill Tung Biu and Lam Gwok Hung return as, respectively, Uncle Bill and Raymond, Ka-Kui’s gently competing superiors. Look for bit parts by Ken Lo Wai-Kwong as a fire fighter and Lau Ching-Wan as a plainclothes police inspector.

Directed by Jackie Chan. Written by Jackie Chan and Edward Tang Ging Sang. With Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Bill Tun Biu, Lam Gwok Hung, Benny Lai Keung Kuen

* DVD Notes *

101 minutes. Deltamac DVD. Region 0. NTSC.

The Deltamac DVD features Cantonese and Mandarin audio tracks (both post-synched and presented in glorious mono), which get the job done. The English subtitles are easy to read and well timed, with not too many glaring mistakes. The picture looks quite decent, with deep black levels and saturated colors; the source materials reflect wear and tear, and occasional scenes look more worn than others.

The original, nearly four-minute long theatrical trailer is included. It features behind the scenes footage of Jackie Chan rehearsing and demonstrating moves. Only six chapters are provided, which makes it a bit inconvenient to locate favorite scenes.

* Background *

Released during the summer of 1988, POLICE STORY II grossed HK$34 million dollars. It was released about six months after DRAGONS FOREVER (the last teaming to date of Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao). His next picture would be MIRACLES in the summer of 1989. Co-scripter Edward Tang Ging Sang was a frequent Chan colloborator, dating back to THE YOUNG MASTER in 1980 and continuing through to MR. NICE GUY in 1997.

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