Police Story: Lockdown Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Well Go USA
Written and directed by Ding Sheng
2013, 110 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on August 11th, 2015
Jackie Chan as Zhong Wen
Liu Ye as Wu Jiang
Jing Tian as Miao
Yin Tao as Lan
Na Wei as Na
Liu Yiwei as General Manager Niu
Police Captain Zhong Wen is at the center of a hostage crisis at the trendy Club Wu in mainland China. The criminal mastermind has a personal vendetta against Zhong and an unspecified number of people being held captive, but refuses to immediately reveal his motive. Knowing he is running out of time, Zhong mentally weeds through the list of criminals he has pursued that either eluded capture or vowed revenge, but each guess he offers is incorrect. There is additional pressure for the situation to come to a swift conclusion in that the captain’s estranged daughter Miao is also one of the hostages.
Police Story (1985) is a fun-filled popcorn movie that starred Jackie Chan as Inspector Chan Ka Kui, a dedicated Hong Kong cop fighting corruption while trying to maintain a healthy relationship with his girlfriend. Hilarity and mayhem ensues as the seemingly indestructible entertainer performed death-defying stunts that were inspired in part by legendary silent film comedian Buster Keaton. The picture was an instant success and spawned three sequels: Police Story 2 (1988), Police Story 3: Supercop (1991) and Police Story 4: First Strike (1996).
In New Police Story (2004), the series reboot shows Chan is still capable of thrilling audiences with his physical abilities, but this time playing a different character (Senior Inspector Chan Kwok-Wing) with a troubled backstory, teamed with a hotshot younger partner. The franchise lay dormant for the better part of a decade until Police Story: 2013 (aka Police Story: Lockdown) finds Chan playing yet another seasoned police officer, Captain Zhong Wen. Unfortunately, this installment has nothing in common with the rest of the series and more closely resembles Jackie Chan’s action/ drama Crime Story (1993).
Longtime fans of the series have come to expect a certain level of comedy and elaborate fight choreography in each installment, but Lockdown goes out of its way to avoid both elements. The action sequences are generally standalone vignettes that have nothing to do with Capt. Zhong’s predicament. There is a moderately engaging car chase and some UFC-style cage fighting, but the only hint we find of the formerly nimble Jackie Chan comes in an early flashback to when his character saved a despondent citizen. I am not a fan of snarky critics being “clever” in their disdain for a film, but I will make an exception here, as a more appropriate title for this misadventure is Police Story: Letdown. I would feel more lenient had the title been added as an afterthought to cash in on a winning formula, but in the accompanying interviews the director discusses his determination to make a new style of Police Story sequel. Mission failed, sir.
On the surface, Lockdown plays as a tepid thriller with numerous action sequences sprinkled throughout. The dynamic cutaways promise to entice viewers until the shocking finale when everything is revealed and Wen must make some difficult choices in order to save his daughter. Anyone that has ever seen a movie before will find much disappointment in the execution of this familiar plot. Writer/ director Ding Sheng (Little Big Soldier) proves he is the wrong man for the job, as he drops the ball at almost every opportunity before finding new ways to frustrate his audience, including immobilizing a major action star by tying him to a chair for the first half of the film.
To be fair, 60-year old Jackie Chan should not be expected to perform the same thrilling acrobatics that he was famous for in decades past; the problem is not with the casting, but rather the ill-suited Sheng and his maudlin screenplay forcing their way into a beloved franchise. Police Story: Lockdown is a sloppy film, riddled with problems that will keep audiences at arm’s length whether they are longtime Jackie Chan fans or simply curious about a new action flick. If you want to see the star in a decent drama, try Shinjuku Incident (2009) or the aforementioned Crime Story. If you want to see him at his finest, check out Armour of God or better still, just watch the original Police Story.
Video and Audio:
The picture is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the transfer is quite strong. There are no complaints with colors or black levels, as both are nicely represented and there are no signs of print damage.
There are four audio options, two in English and two in the original Mandarin language. Each receives both a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. The 5.1 tracks sound fairly identical (outside of the obvious) and bring a lot of energy to the (limited) action sequences. The English language option is not horrendous, and Jackie dubs his own voice, but the English subtitles reveal some inconsistencies in the translation.
There are a few brief interviews on this disc with members of the cast and crew including director Ding Sheng (4 minutes), Jackie Chan (4 minutes), Liu Ye (6 minutes) and Jing Tian (6 minutes). Each discusses how much fun they had making the film and there is a lot of praise for Jackie’s talents. Sheng goes out of his way to defend his vision for the film and it is all the more frustrating that Jackie would sign off on this, as likely the final chapter in such a beloved franchise.
A montage of behind-the-scenes footage set to a rock music soundtrack bombards viewers for five minutes, but does not really satisfy or educate.
A domestic trailer is followed by a gallery of additional titles available from Well Go USA.
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