1988, 101 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by: Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Benny Lai, Bill Tung, Mars
Thursday, June 27 @ 6:30pm (buy tickets)
A classic in waiting, Jackie Chan’s sequel to the genre-generating Police Story is his most cynical and ironic film. Focused on hand-to-hand combat the way Police Story was focused on mega-stunts, it’s a study in frustration for Chan’s supercop Ka-kui. Busted down to traffic cop after demolishing a mall at the end of Police Story he starts this flick as the underdog, then digs deeper. His temper is set on “Broil” and every confrontation ends in disaster, every cathartic moment is undermined by a cataclysmic accident. He spends the movie in a heightened state of embarrassment, nothing going as planned, conversations overheard, gestures misread, cops becoming hostages, and criminals becoming innocent bystanders. Frustrated at every turn, beset by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Ka-kui’s life keeps sliding off the plate like a big wobbly cube of watery Jello.
Frustrated and irritable in his new job as a ticket-writing traffic cop, Jackie’s frustrations escalate when he finds out that Chu (played by Shaw Brothers director of swordplay masterpieces, Chor Yuen), the criminal kingpin painfully sent to prison at the end of Police Story, is getting early release due to terminal illness and his consigliere, John (Charlie Cho), plans to teach Jackie a lesson. This results in a series of henchmen dust-ups in parks, playgrounds and classy restaurants that slowly starts to tweak Jackie’s nerves. His girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung again), finds her patience for action setpieces stretched to the breaking point (as is her skull, which required stitches after going down a construction chute head first in the climax) and she tearfully plans to bid farewell to Chan.
Meanwhile…on the other side of town a gang of bomb-throwing blackmailers are blowing up shopping malls, police stations, secretaries, and suspects in an elaborate extortion scheme. Romance collapsing like a soufflé, bombs bursting everywhere, Chu out of prison and gunning for revenge…the three plotlines run a baton relay, each one kicking in when the other two take a break. It’s not the tightest script structure in the world but god bless Jackie Chan for ignoring conventional wisdom and just doing what comes naturally. The result may not adhere to Robert McKee’s rules of three-act structure, but it’s a fantastic study in frustration and high impact workplace stress.
An undiscovered delight overshadowed by its predecessor, POLICE STORY II is to Police Story what Project A 2 is to Project A. Both movies take what was good about their first installments and deliver it in spades, only with more technical polish and greater craft. Not coincidentally, both POLICE STORY II and Project A II keep multiple plotlines flying through the air, juggling characters and subplots with the greatest of ease, only occasionally bringing things down to earth to keep the story moving along. You get the feeling that without studio bosses looking over his shoulder, Jackie would be happy to keep his characters and set pieces spinning up there for ever, and ever, and ever.