It’s the next one that does. Fast-forward at least a decade later. In college, a friend showed me a VHS tape of an episode of The Incredibly Strange Film Show, a British documentary miniseries. Chan was that ep’s subject, and clips from 1985’s Police Story — and maybe even 1988’s Police Story 2, if memory serves correct — were featured heavily.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; it was nothing short of a revelation. The sheer amount of balls and bravado he displayed — not a stuntman, but Chan himself — for these wonderfully insane set pieces of action made me an instant fan. When the Internet arrived a few years later, I was able to acquire what looked like third- and fourth-generation dubs of these films and many others from tape traders.
A few more years later, when New Line Cinema and Miramax recognized Chan as a cash cow as yet unmilked, I already had seen most of Chan’s movies that were being released to American theaters. Better late than never, as the adage goes.
The same can be said for the second of Shout! Factory’s double-feature Blu-rays for Chan reissues, this one pairing the first two Police pictures. Finally, I have reason to ditch the Region 2 DVDs I imported so long ago.
Seeing these films again for the first time in a long time brought all those initial memories back. I’m still in awe of so many of the sequences, primarily:
• Chan hanging off the speeding bus;
• the car chase down the hill and through a village;
• Chan sliding down the strings of lights with his bare hands;
• Chan running across the busy highway;
• the playground brawl;
• and Chan generally defying gravity and braving jumps and/or falls that would kill the rest of us.
These moments and more are in such strong supply, they’re arguably the films’ reason for being, as the plots are fairly standard and nondescript. Chan’s acrobatics lift them to the cinematic stratosphere, and it was a pleasure introducing my grade-school son to some of the scenes. He, too, was enthralled; no longer does he know Chan just as “that old guy from The Karate Kid,” in much the same way I no longer knew Chan as “that Asian guy from Cannonball Run.”
You can’t ask for anything more. Except more of these Chan-tastic Blu-rays. —Rod Lott