Police Story: Lockdown Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Jackie Chan, Ye Liu
  • Director: Ding Sheng
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: August 11, 2015
  • Run Time: 110 minutes


            American audiences may have first taken notice of Jackie Chan with Rumble in the Bronx (1995), but he had already established his signature style with the highly successful Police Story franchise. While it is not surprising to see Chan return to his most lucrative franchise the same way that Bruce Willis seems to keep dying hard, Sylvester Stallone repeatedly returns as either Rambo or Rocky, and Arnold Schwarzenegger will always “be back” for another Terminator film, the title of Police Story: Lockdown is somewhat misleading. Released as Police Story 2013 in China, this latest installment does not feature Chan playing the Inspector Chan from the Police Story franchise. In fact, the only thing that this film shares in common with the martial arts actor’s most lucrative film series is the title. Not only the character name has changed, but also the style in which the story is told and the impact of the film’s action sequences.


            Gone are the days of Chan’s large scale slapstick stunts, instead replaced with a minimalist plot taking place primarily in one set piece. Most of the humor is also gone along with Chan’s ability to perform spectacular stunts, but this shift in style is far superior to an over-use of CGI effects making up for the aging actor’s physical limitations. Even though this film doesn’t contain the character from the classic Police Story franchise, this is as close as Chan has gotten to those films in many years.


            In a set-up that initially feels like Die Hard in a bar, Chan plays a police officer held hostage alongside his estranged daughter in a factory-turned-nightclub by a group of cage fighting criminals from Thailand. Although there are a large group of hostages, the leader of the criminals is primarily interested in Officer Zhong Wen (Chan). Former fighter Wu Jiang (Ye Liu) has a grudge against the aging officer, determined to make him pay for a case from his past. As he is confined for a large portion of the first act, Police Story: Lockdown often relies on flashbacks of previous cases for sprinklings of action sequences, all in Wen’s effort to figure out the case that he is being punished for.


            Another film contrivance for adding action to this stationary narrative also takes place in Wen’s head, as he calculates scenarios before they actually occur. While this is misleading for the viewers, showing them violence and action as it could occur rather than how it will play out, it also keeps the storyline moving along during sequences filled with heavy dialogue instead of fighting. There is no doubt that Chan’s style of action has slowed down, but what little is included still has the ability to impress. Even though Chan may no longer be able to accomplish the large scale stunts, the choreography of the fighting still feels like it belongs in one of his films.


            Despite having far less action than his previous films, much of which merely takes place in the head of our cop protagonist, Police Story: Lockdown is a welcome addition to Chan’s filmography. I don’t really care what the films are called, as long as Chan keeps making movies like this rather than the slew of historical action films he has made recently. There is a bit too much talking, the resolution between Chan and his daughter is emotionally contrived, and the imagined action scenarios are distracting fake-outs that eventually lose the trust of the audience, but all of this is forgivable in the brief moments we are reminded of the reason Chan became a star in the first place.


            The Blu-ray release includes interviews with director Sheng Ding (Little Big Soldier) and select cast members, along with a behind-the-scenes featurette. There is also a trailer and an English-language track is available for those too lazy to read the subtitles. The high definition is actually impressive with the special effects shots that are in the film, even if most of them are imagined or shown through flashback. There are also some great slow motion shots in the fight scenes that are enhanced by the pristine visuals. Although there is more talking in this Police Story than previous installations, that doesn’t make the visual style of the film any less impressive. In many ways, the stagnant plot forces even more stylized visuals to compensate for the inactive storyline, though it never feels like overkill.


    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance:  7/10

    Special Features: 6/10

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