Thursday, January 24, 2013

Classic Chan: Supercop (1992)

We continue our exploration of some of Jackie's famous Police Story film series, today joined by the lovely Michelle Yeoh. Next time, Thrasher will re-visit the cult-classic, Rumble in Vancouver. I know I'm excited.
Also known as Police Story III in Asia, Supercop builds upon the adventures of Jackie/Kevin Chan, who is now officially recognized as being a "supercop." As such, he is sent to partner with Jessica Yang (played by Michelle Yeoh), a member of the mainland Chinese police, in a dangerous undercover assignment that involves breaking a convict out of a labor camp in order to infiltrate his older brother's drug cartel. Jackie brings the same brand of lovable yet lethal goofball who is not afraid to slap a woman if she gets too sassy. He still has the same lovely, though perhaps under-appreciated, girlfriend from the previous films, but is now joined by a woman who slaps back. And this is my favorite thing about this film: it is one of the few times where Jackie has a true female counterpart (unless, of course, you want to count Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Medallion) who can rival his ability to provide spectacle through stunts. She is a pleasure to watch, whereas watching Scarlett Johannson (or most other actresses put in an action-fighting role) often requires the suspension of disbelief. Indeed, she does all of her own stunts, too, of which there are quite a few to be found. And I find that this can make for a better martial arts film. In contrast, there are some cases where Jackie has very impressive fight scenes but a story that is hard to sit through or follow, causing me to have the desire to simply save the parts of these movies I do like and make an action compilation. Supercop does not have this problem at all; action scenes happen often and always further the plot. It all culminates in a stunning visual climax involving stunts with a helicopter, dirt bike, and train. What is unfortunate is that I found certain problems about the scene that distracted me from enjoying it in all its glory. The largest is the method by which Chaibat, being pursued by Chan who is hanging on the rope ladder of his helicopter, tries to stop him. Chaibat has his pilot run Chan into some of the more iconic spires in Kuala Lumpur, which fails, and eventually into an oncoming train, which catches the rope ladder and forces the helicopter to land on it. I typically dislike when villains leave the protagonist in some elaborate trap and leave, allowing him or her to escape. The feeling I get from that is quite the same I get here. Chaibat is carrying a large assault rifle in the helicopter and there ought to have been some explanation as to why he wouldn't use it to get Chan off his rope ladder (something like he ran out of ammo or it dropped out of the chopper). Also puzzling is why they don't just cut the rope ladder (and the excuse that they didn't have a knife is belied by the fact that one of the men on the helicopter pulls out a huge bowie knife to attack Jackie). The ending also left me puzzling why Chaibat's wife would assist in rescuing Jackie and Jessica, since she had previously been sentenced to death by the Malaysian government for conspiracy against the state. Some explanation about how they could extradite her to Hong Kong for leniency in providing the numbers to the Swiss bank accounts would have been welcomed. These three seemingly small quibbles caused disproportionately large problems in my enjoyment of what otherwise is a fantastic action scene. But please don't let my spending half of the review talking about some problems give you the impression that this movie was anything less than one of Jackie's best outings. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of the Police Story series.

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