Review for Police Story 3 : Supercop
I think Eureka Entertainment have missed a trick with their advertising blurb for Police Story III: Supercop, proclaiming it as appearing on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK. Indeed, this September, they’re going all out, revisiting the first two Police Story films, and adding Police Story 3 to a UHD trilogy collection. This along with 88 Films’ US release might just be the world debut of the Police Story trilogy in Ultra High Definition. But here’s the thing about Police Story III, this Blu-ray UHD release might just be the UK disc debut of the film. I certainly can’t find any mention of it being released on anything other than VHS in the UK, certainly not DVD (I would have pounced on that in a second), and as far as I can tell, not laserdisc, UMD, or VCD either. Police Story III did get a DVD release in the US, but it got Weinsteined out of about six minutes of footage or I would have imported it. No, I’ve been nursing a VHS copy of Police Story III for the last 25-odd years, taped off the TV one late Friday night. I finally get to see this film as it was meant to be seen.
Hong Kong faces the problem of drugs. A drug lord named Chaibat is operating across South East Asia, and Interpol wants the Hong Kong police to supply a supercop to infiltrate Chaibat’s organisation, and bring it down from within. Inspector Chan Ka-Kui gets volunteered. His first step is to head to the Chinese mainland, where, working with Inspector Yang Chien-Hua, he’ll go undercover as a small-time criminal, and break Chaibat’s right hand man Pau out of a labour camp. Democratic Hong Kong working alongside Communist China may prove harder than bringing down a drug lord.
Police Story III: Supercop gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, taken from a 4k re-master of the original film elements. You have the choice between Dolby Atmos, PCM 2.0 Stereo and the original PCM 1.0 mono Cantonese tracks with English subtitles, as well as the PCM 1.0 mono English dub. Of course at this juncture, the cinephile’s interest will be in the UHD, but the Blu-ray is no slouch either, presenting the film with no apparent flaw. The image is clear and sharp, with rich colours and excellent detail. There is a nice level of natural film grain, and the only ‘issue’ might be the anamorphic lensing occasionally being obvious in the scene. I went with, and was happy with the original mono audio, and Police Story III is notable for being the first Jackie Chan Hong Kong movie to use sync sound. This was practically the first time where we heard Jackie’s voice in the film (He was usually ADR’d by another actor), instead of just singing the end credit theme song. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
The disc boots to a static menu, and comes loaded with extras, certainly more than a Blu-ray disc should be able to contain...
Commentary with Frank Djeng and F.J. DeSanto
Commentary with Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Incidentally, the Frank Djeng, F.J. DeSanto commentary might get you double dipping if you bought the Police Story 1 & 2 double pack from Eureka a couple of years ago, as they’ve recorded commentaries for all three films, which will be on the new triple pack UHD release.
Supercop - US Version (91:10)
This is the first time I’ve seen a US release of a Hong Kong film, put through a Weinstein shredder, getting a Cantonese audio track when presented as a bonus feature on one of these boutique label releases. I thought I’d give it a try, but the cheesy as hell opening sequence put me right off. Still, it’s a nice addition to see just how much is left on the cutting room floor when US companies localised these film to make them Western audience friendly. The US version is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p, with DD 5.1 English, and DD 1.0 mono Alternate Cantonese audio.
John Kreng Interview (22:33)
The Ultraviolent Jackie Chan Video Games (11:11)
Police Story Location Guide (11:21)
In Archival Interviews you’ll find the following...
Flying High: Jackie Chan (19:21)
Dancing with Death: Michelle Yeoh (23:12)
The Stuntmaster General: Stanley Tong (19:33)
The Fall Guy: Ken Lo (21:45)
Stanley Tong 2004 Interview (17:16)
Stanley Tong 2005 Interview (31:07)
Trailers and Promos contain the Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer, the Japanese Teaser, the UK English Export trailer, the US Theatrical Teaser and the Trailer, and the US TV Spots and the Video Promo.
And yes, I had to double check myself. There really is almost an hour of outtakes with Police Story III, where most Hong Kong films just get 5 minutes or so.
The first run release will come with a collector’s booklet with new writing from James Oliver, although the booklet that comes with the trilogy set will supposedly be more extensive.
So... Police Story III. The story is the best yet, the action too has never been better, with more outrageous and death-defying stunts than ever before, and making the film effectively a two-hander with Michelle Yeoh more than matching Jackie Chan for screen presence and action ability, is a genius move. The mix of brutal drama with slapstick comedy is present and correct too. However, I still don’t like Police Story III as much as the first two films. That’s down to what is effectively a genre switch.
Police Story 1 and 2 were, as you’d expect, police procedurals, as well as action comedies. The cop aspect of the films was played up, even though Chan Ka-Kui did go undercover in both of them. Police Story III on the other hand is more of a spy thriller, playing instead in the same league as James Bond. This is even truer for the fourth Police Story movie, First Strike (another film that got Weinsteined on home video). There’s no reason why a genre switch, keeping the same characters can’t work; look at Alien and Aliens, but for me I just don’t get into Police Story III the way I do with the first two films. It seems to be skirting closer to fantasy. Unlike First Strike though, the third Police Story is still a great piece of entertainment, and keeps my eyes glued to the screen for the duration.
I did mention that plenty of the aspects of the first two films are repeated in this one, but I must say that the balance between the slapstick comedy and the brutal drama is a little off kilter in Police Story III, tilted towards the brutality, and for me it feels just a tad in poor taste. The villain of the piece, Chaibat is the nastiest piece of work to appear in a Police Story film, and his gang are just as brutal. The heroes have to go undercover in this gang to ultimately take down the bad guy, and see everything from a traitorous gang member summarily shot, a girl overdosing on dope, to a massacre in a jungle meeting. Subtle this is not, and this time it jars when you get a moment of farce or a bit of slapstick, in a way the first two films avoided. You can see why the US version was edited to make it more local audience friendly, although I can’t forgive that replacement opening theme.
Police Story III has been a long time absent from UK home video, and Jackie Chan fans have long lamented that fact. Now that it’s finally here, Eureka have gone the whole hog, and given it the best possible release it can get, going straight to UHD as well as Blu-ray, going back and also giving the first two films the UHD treatment as well. While it may not be my favourite of the series, it’s still a must own title, and with a disc this loaded with extra features, you certainly shouldn’t hesitate. Although hesitation might be warranted if First Strike ever gets a release...