Review: Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)
Starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Yuen Wah
Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong
Directed by Stanley Tong
Everyone was excited when news came that Jackie Chan would once again play supercop Ka-Kui in another installment of the Police Story series, and would bring fellow Peking Opera buddie Yuen Wah along for the ride, but while Supercop is a great action film, it marked the closing of the door on Jackie’s 80’s style films and would mark the films that would define him for the 90’s. That bodes good and bad depending on who you ask.
The film opens as Chan Ka-Kui is once again tricked by Uncle Bill and a new superintendent (I’m assuming the previous superintendent started attending high school, and his parents wouldn’t allow him to work anymore) to work with the Chinese (remember HK wasn’t part of China at the time) in order to find out what arms dealer Chabot is up to by going undercover and getting close to his man Panther. Some may be disappointed to know that this is not Jackie Chan versus the Thundercats, but I’ll forgive anyone who thinks that to this point. At least they don’t take half the film to get Chan to do shit, and he and May seem to have patched things up from Police Story 2.
Chan is teamed up with Inspector Yang (Yeoh), a hard ass Chinese police officer who isn’t very impressed with Supercop Chan, and he doesn’t exactly like her too much either. To test his skills first she tricks him into fighting the top police martial arts instructor. A small fight that is well done, but no where near the caliber of any of the fights in the previous films, and that accounts for this entire film, but more on that later.
The goal to getting close to Panther (Wah) is to make it as if Chan is one of the men hired to break Panther out of prison. The escape scenes are filled with good stunt work, and a pretty good fight (more on that later) between Chan and the prison guards. He takes Panther and some of his men to his fictional home, only to find that Uncle Bill is posing as his mother, and Yang is there as his fictional sister, and immediately we see that they in fact do have a very believable relationship as brother and sister with the way they bicker at each other, fooling Panther further, but the suspense is good here as Panther is always one mistake away from figuring the whole deception out.
After another pretty good fight in a bar where Michelle Yeoh really gets to show her stuff, both she and Chan are taken to Chabot, who is not, in fact, the main enemy of the Gobots, but a batshit crazy arms dealer whose wife is really the brains behind their operation, but she’s currently awaiting trial in prison, and he plans to get her out, but first wants to eliminate the arms dealer competition, and does so by meeting them in a private location i.e. a place where large number of people can get shot or blown up without anything but satellites being able to know it was happening, and they should have, since the battle that takes place looks like a scene out of Rambo. What takes it to another level is that fact that Yang is wearing a bulletproof vest lined with explosives, and one bullet and she goes kaboom, and she knows that, but Chan doesn’t, which leads to some funny moments when he tries to use her as a human shield.
Chabot succeeds in killing his competition off, and now turns his crazy ass to seeing about breaking his wife out of prison. By the way, when I say crazy, I mean Jack Nicholson crazy. He just laughs uncontrollably at damn near anything.
They head to Malaysia for the finale, and no sooner do they arrive than trouble starts when May arrives as a tour guide with a bunch of travellers, with no idea Chan is there, as he had lied earlier and told her he was going to a police conference. Sooo, their relationship still needs a bit of work. Soon she learns that he is indeed there, and in typical May fashion flies off the handle, but not anywhere near what she did in Police Story 2, which is a shame, but probably for the best as she nearly gives the game away, and eventually does so thinking she’s helping Chan out, which leads to her getting caught once again by the bad guys, and Panther will exchange her so long as Chan and Yang help break out Mrs. Chabot.
They do free her, and in a total dick move Chabot drops May out of a helicopter from 2 stories up and ricochets her body off of a car. This leads to the jaw dropping finale as Yang hangs off of a van that nearly collides with a bus, and Chan flies all over the city of Kuala Lumpur at the end of a rope ladder tied to a helicopter that is flying nearly 10-20 stories high! They eventually land on moving train where they have a final fight with Chabot and his men to bring his wife back into police custody. They win the day, and the film draw to an end, and a new era of Jackie Chan films begins.
Choreography: (7) With this film, and what we will see for the 90’s, gone are the elaborate fight scenes where stuntmen get their asses handed to them in frenetic fight scenes that are beautiful in their chaos, and here we get fights that seem more cartoonish in nature, and the threat of Ka-Kui getting killed has lost its flavor, as he never really seems over his head, which is the hallmark of Stanley Tong’s fight choreography style, more movement than consequence, and Jackie would use this style for many films of the 90’s, the ones Americans would largely see. There were also no signature fight scene, like the Mall fight in part 1 or the playground fight in part 2.
Stuntwork: (9) Good work by all involved, but this really gets the high marks for specifically the stunts Chan and Yeoh do, particularly the bus scene for Yeoh and the helicopter ride for Jackie. That shit was insane.
Star Power: (9) Jackie and Michelle Yeoh at the height of their skills do a great job here, and any time you can see Yuen Wah is a good thing, but there wasn’t enough of either Bill Tung or Maggie Cheung, and after the great performance she had in Police Story 2, it’s a shame she was relegated to what amounted to a guest starring appearance.
Final Grade: (7) A good action film that put less emphasis on the martial arts and much more on the stuntwork, and that’s not so good for martial arts film fans. We’ll have to wait a while before we see Jackie in more fight intensive films. Luckily he made one of the greatest ever during the 90’s version of JC, but this ain’t it.
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