I previously reviewed the first two ’Police Story’ movies for HDD but have not been back to the franchise until now.
Released around the world as ‘Police Story 2013’, ‘Police Story: Lockdown’ is the sixth in the series (sort of). It is a standalone story with Jackie Chan playing Detective Zhong Wen, a mainland Chinese police officer, as opposed to Hong Kong police officer "Kevin" Chan Ka-Kui, his character in the first four films. Having ‘Police Story’ in the title appears to be a brand identifier to inform viewers it’s a film where Jackie Chan plays a cop.
Just before opening credits roll, we see a banged-up Wen shoot himself in the head. The film then cuts to show him waking up in a cab en route to meeting his daughter Miao Miao (Jing Tian) at the nightclub Wu Bar, where he is introduced to her boyfriend, Wu Jiang (Liu Ye). Wen is estranged from his daughter due in part to the difficulties he had raising her after he became a widow. His dedication to his job was a complicating factor and the viewer is provided an example when a man in the club reveals himself to be wearing explosives. The situation is resolved with an unexpected twist.
This night also happens to be the night the Wu Bar is celebrating its third anniversary so quite a number of people have been invited and are in attendance, only to become collateral hostages when Wu has Wen knocked out and tied up. Wu demands a ransom and for a man named Wei Xiaofu (Zhou Xiaoou), currently in jail, to be delivered to the club.
As Wen works to free the hostages, he learns more about Wu, which reveals a more complicated story than one usually finds within Jackie Chan movies. He discovers his captor has a background as a kickboxer, foreshadowing a physical confrontation between the two. He also learns that Wu's plan involves more than kidnapping a police officer to free a prisoner. In fact, some of the hostages weren't at the club by coincidence.
Other than as a cheap marketing ploy, it's not clear why the filmmakers are using ‘Police Story’ in the title because the film lacks what audiences have come to expect from Chan. Gone are the outrageous stunts, which is understandable considering the actor is now over 60. But there is a lot of violence as Chan gets into a number of fights.
Instead, 'Lockdown' delivers one of the smartest scripts Chan has ever done, focused on characters rather than action sequences, although writer/director Ding Sheng cheats at the end with a trick intended to needlessly manipulate the audience. And yet, this crime thriller becomes an emotional family drama in a believable and satisfying way.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Well Go USA Entertainment presents 'Police Story: Lockdown' on a 25GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard blue case housed in a cardboard slipcase. Trailers for ‘Z Storm’, ‘Kung Fu Killer’, and ‘Special ID’
Recorded with Arri Alexa digital cameras, the video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 2.35:1. The image is clean throughout and presents a satisfying amount of depth. On the street outside Wu's bar, colors come through in vibrant hues under the nightime skies. Once inside, the production design gets darker. During an arrest set within an industrial train yard, the hues are duller as they reveal the rusted and weathered metal.
Blacks are inky and distinct, such as when the cops are in formation and their uniforms don't crush into one another. There's very strong shadow delineation and contrast on display. A portion of Wen's fight inside the club is shot in slow motion and the image reveals great clarity with fine details and sharpness. Exterior buildings also exhibit great textures.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo in both Mandarin and English. The 5.1 mix was overly aggressive on occasion. A bonk on the head to Wen and body blows during fights are over exaggerated, sounding like thunderous claps. Explosions were too much at times when they reached the point of distorteion. Speaker rattling was also a problem when the music from the rockabilly band in Club Wu became the focus.
Otherwise, the music came through with solid fidelity and filled the surrounds, from the score to a punk rock band playing an outdoor concert. The mix offers good imaging as objects and people could be heard moving across channels, like a subway train panning across. The bass was mostly solid, supporting both the music and effects, except in the moments above when it contributed to being too loud. The dialogue was clear and balanced well with the other elements. .
With Jackie Chan being at an age where the breathtaking stunts he became famous for are too much for his body to handle (and some of them seemed too much for anyone to handle at any age), it's good to see him transition to films like ‘Police Story: Lockdown’. The HD presentation offers very good video and audio that is almost as good when it's not too aggressive. Unfortunately, the extras are disappointingly light.