Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” At 35: Still The Best HK Action Movie Ever Made

Jackie Chan's
Image Credit: themoviedb.org

Back in the golden era of the 1980s and 90s, there were many certified Hong Kong movie classics that received wide acclaim both locally and abroad. Some of them even set the bar high such as “Police Story”, which was released on December 14, 1985 (you can currently stream it on Netflix).

Then-31-year-old Jackie Chan did multiple duties both onscreen (as the lead actor) and behind the cameras as the co-writer, director and even martial arts/action director. “Police Story” proved to be a huge success, making HK$26.6 million in the box office. It also went to become the third highest-grossing Hong Kong movie during that year behind “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars” (HK$28.9 million) and “My Lucky Stars” (HK$30.7 million, streaming on Netflix), both of which happened to star Jackie Chan as well. In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of “Police Story”, let’s take a look at why Jackie Chan’s seminal 1985 action movie remains the best of its kind in Hong Kong cinema.

Incredible Opening Scene

Ever heard the familiar term of “save the best for last”? For Jackie Chan, he didn’t just reserve the best scene for the finale, but also right from the start itself. The opening 15 minutes alone would make you think it has the kind of an elaborate sequence, which fits perfectly in the climactic finale. The movie’s first major set-piece, beginning with the police officer Chan Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) driving through the hilly slopes of a shanty village certainly earns its distinction as one of the most insane stunts ever executed. The particular scene even inspired Michael Bay to replicate the same car chase eighteen years later in “Bad Boys II” (2003).

Police Story (1985): Opening Chase Scene
Image Credit: FLTR 2 YouTube

But the stunt didn’t just end there. The scene continues with Chan pursuing the criminals on foot, where Chu Tou (Chor Yuen) and his men ended up hijacking a double-decker bus. Never a quitter, we get to see Chan going as far as to clinging onto the hook of a civilian’s umbrella on the back, and later the side of a moving bus.

Police Story (1985): Double Decker Bus Scene
Image Credit: nerdist.com

Here’s a little trivia: Two of Chu Tou’s men, who got thrown out of the double-decker bus was actually a stunt gone wrong. Instead of landing onto the ground, the scene was supposed to have them fall onto the car.

The Final Fight

As if the already-insane opening scene wasn’t enough, Chan pushed himself further during the final 10 minutes or so. Taking place in the Wing On Plaza located on Tsim Sha Tsui East, he made good use of the crowded mall setting as his play battleground. Going all out, he single-handedly took down Chu Tou’s men and hurt himself. Like a lot. Case in point, he suffered burns on his hands during a spectacular stunt, where he slides down the pole filled with light bulbs.

Police Story (1985): Mall Pole Scene
Image Credit: premiumbeat.com

Earlier on, Chan and his stunt crew went crazy with sugar glass. The sugar glass in question refers to the type of “glass” made to look like the real thing. As a result, Chan showcased some of the most brutal fights in his storied career — smashing and crashing through numerous glass displays, that is.

Police Story (1985): Mall Fight Scene
Image Credit: tumblr.com

You have to admire the sheer level of dedication that Chan displayed both onscreen and offscreen. A result that won him a well-deserved Best Action Choreography at the Hong Kong Film Awards. “Police Story” also made history as the first action movie to win the coveted Best Film for the aforementioned award.

“Police Story” may not be an action-packed movie from the start till finish. This is particularly evident, given the middle section mostly reserved for elaborate comedic set-pieces. But even after 35 years since the movie made its theatrical debut, both of the opening and final scenes remain a breathtaking piece of work that hardly topped, let alone equalled ever since. The story is definitely not the strongest suit in this movie. It’s as simple and straightforward as it goes. But then again, most people go to Jackie Chan’s movies for the stunts and action.

Given the time of COVID-19 pandemic and with local cinemas only allowed to open in selected RMCO areas, this would be a great opportunity to revisit “Police Story” on Netflix at the comfort of your own home.