When people talk about the career of martial artist and actor Jackie Chan, there’s one film that almost everyone mentions because of the incredible stunt work in the climactic battle: Police Story (1985). That film would go on to start a franchise including it’s 1988 direct sequel Police Story 2 and 1992’s Police Story 3: Super Cop, which not only saw Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx/Jackie Chan’s First Strike) replace Chan in the director’s chair but added the still-early-in-her-career Michelle Yeoh (Yes, Madam!/Royal Warriors) into the mix. Even with the new ingredients, Super Cop possesses all the hallmarks of a Chan film: breathtaking stunts, practical effects, and a great deal of humor to offset the drama. Now, for the first time, courtesy of 88 Films, fans new and old can experience Super Cop like never before, with a brand-new 4K UHD with Dolby Vision presentation of the Hong Kong Cut, as well as a bevy of included physical and on-disc materials to explore and enjoy.
He’s taken down drug lords and bombers, but, now, Hong Kong officer Chan Ka-Kui (Chan) is recruited to assist Interpol with taking down a drug smuggler via a joint operation with the Chinese. Ka-Kui and Interpol Inspector Yang Chien Hua (Yeoh) assist in breaking smuggler Pua (Yuen Wah) out of a labor camp and serve as escorts back to Hong Kong where his brother, Khun Chaibat (Kenneth Tsang) operates. With each step closer to securing the evidence they need, the pair of officers are pushed more and more toward going over the line of duty. To get the job done, they’ll need to be some kind of super cop: a cop that can’t be stopped.
Police Story 3 is leaner and more intense than 2, even if the stunts don’t quite have the same wow-factor as the original. Instead, I’d argue, that the stunts are more dynamic, showing not just Chan’s signature dexterity, but allowing for Yuen and Yeoh to shine, too. Granted, at this point in Yuen’s career, he’s a staple in wuxia and martial arts cinema, as well as a frequent on-screen partner of Chans (1985’s My Lucky Stars and 1988’s Dragons Forever), or with fellow Dragon Sammo Hung (1986’s Millionaires’ Express and 1987’s Eastern Condors). The point being that in Super Cop, it’s no longer just about Chan, but about those around him, and the film is made all the better for it. There’s a balance that comes by giving Ka-Kui more than a different adversary and location. Not only is he a fish out of water, allowing for some great physical comedy from Chan, but it puts him almost always in a state of trying to improv his way through situations, creating unexpected opportunities for the audience through the new characters. There’s the moment during the mid-film gunfight where Yang and Ka-Kui bump into each other or, my favorite single moment, where situational awareness is the key to survival. Combined with the tighter story, there’s more opportunity for the kinds of stunts that leave the audience going “how are they not dead?,” such as when Yeoh’s Yang jumps off a van onto a convertible that Chan is driving. Sadly, even in a third outing, Maggie Cheung’s May is little more than comedic fodder who once more deserves better than Ka-Kui. Good thing that it’s only a year later that Cheung and Yeoh appeared in Heroic Trio, never to return to the Police Story films again (I hope May is happy and healthy wherever she is). If forced to choose, I might opt for Super Cop as a favorite if only because of the chemistry between Chan and Yeoh, their characters beautifully playing off one another, then 1, followed by 2.
So, let’s talk physical release.
Released as part of 88 Films’s 88 Asia Collection, this is first-time 4K UHD release for North America is demonstrative of what physical media fans come to expect from the boutique. There’s a solid cardboard shell decorated with wraparound artwork that contains a single disc case with both a 4K UHD and Blu-ray disc inside. The case itself has a one-sided liner with an alternative cover and back design. The case is a standard black two-disc with no internal artwork or specialty make-up, other than six replica lobby cards capturing several significant scenes in the film. Also, part of the packaging is a foldout double-sided poster with one side depicting the same cover art as on the disc and a third poster design on its reverse. There is also an incredibly informative 80-page book that includes an interview with Super Cop actor John Wakefield with writer Matthew Edwards, but it is a tad limited regarding on-set information as it was so long ago. Wakefield does, however, share some lovely anecdotes about working with Chan. What shouldn’t be missed is the essay from C.J. Lines offers an in-depth historical look at the film, providing context on where Chan and Yeoh were in their respective careers, the notion to bring Tong in, the making of the film, as well as the response. In preparation for this review, I only watched the Hong Kong Cut, which is roughly six minutes longer than the U.S. Supercop edit. In addition to confirming the tacky opening credits Dimension Films replaced the originals with, via Lines’s essay, I can now confirm that not only did they remove the opening conversation setting up the stakes of the film in order to jump straight to Chan, they also cut some of the darker elements and culturally political content. According to Lines, this is due to a sense that the audience wouldn’t get it. Perhaps it’s the cinephile in me, but removing material that the filmmakers found relevant to the story (I’m not talking about removing curse words (mother falcon!) or reducing bloodsplatter), especially as a means to explore the complicated relationship between British-operated Hong Kong and China, undermines some of the context of the strife between Ka-Kui and Yang beyond the buddy cop comedy aspects. They don’t initially get along because in their first interaction Ka-Kaui comes off a bit like a chauvinist (whereas Chan most certainly was), progressed further due to the tension between their governments. For those unaware of this historical context, Lines’s essay should blow some minds.
Supplemental materials are one thing, and the on-disc materials are plentiful (if not all archived stuff), but it’s the restoration that folks want to know about. All the booklet includes, details-wise, is that Filmfinity conducted the film restoration and Þorsteinn Gíslason did the audio sync and Dolby Atmos track. Beyond that, I can’t speak to *how* it was done or with what. What I can confirm is that I watched Super Cop using my 4K UHD LG television, Xbox One X, and Yamaha 5.1 surround sound system. My stereo is not Atmos supported, so I cannot speak to that aspect; however, this film looks and sounds incredible. With the exception of a few sequences where the audio mix made it seem like dialogue coming from multiple speakers (likely baked into the original mix), the dialogue is crisp, the action audio balanced, and the presentation of the score coming through the back speakers gives the film a nice immersion. My only experiences with the Police Story films are through the 4K digital restoration from Criterion, which are usually impressive on their own, but the 4K UHD really makes Super Cop stand out. There’s improved balance in coloring that shifts the initial dated look of the film so that it feels fresher and more modern. This is especially noticeable in the gun fight sequence which takes place in a jungle-like area, the foliage appearing more green and natural, the brown of the wooden building less tan and beige, and the skin tones far healthier.
Especially having been impressed with their Dragons Forever 4K UHD release, I’m none to surprised that their Super Cop restoration is equally well done. Especially as more and more Chan and Yeoh films are seeing re-releases via restorations and remasters hitting shelves, whether you’re a longtime fan or someone trying to fill in their blank spots, you’re not going to be dissatisfied here. It’s got a far more engaging story than 2, the stunts are bigger, and the story is far more unpredictable than the usual in-a-mall/warehouse climax that the series had done before. Plus, at a nice, tight 96-minutes; the whole thing breezes by and gets you excited for another adventure.
Police Story 3: Super Cop Special Features:
- LIMITED EDITION – Slipcase with brand-new artwork from Sean Longmore
- LIMITED EDITION – Double-sided foldout Poster
- LIMITED EDITION – Six Replica Lobby Cards
- LIMITED EDITION – 80-page perfect-bound book featuring an interview with John Wakefield and new writing on the film by C.J. Lines + selected archive materials
- 4K (2160p) UHD presentation of the Hong Kong Cut [96 mins] in original 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio with Dolby Vision encoding (HDR10+ Compatible)
- Cantonese-language options in Dolby Atmos, Cantonese 1.0 and Cantonese 2.0 [Home Video Mix] with newly translated subtitles and SDH (Hong Kong Cut)
- English Mono Dub (Hong Kong Cut)
- 4K (2160p) UHD presentation of the International US Cut [91 mins] with English 5.1 & Cantonese mono with English Subtitles and SDH
- Audio Commentary by Frank Djeng
- Flying High – Jackie Chan Interview
- Dancing with Death – Michelle Yeoh Interview
- The Stuntmaster General – Stanley Tong Interview
- The Fall Guy – Ken Lo Interview
- Stanley Tong Interview (2004)
- Outtakes and Behind the Scenes
- Hong Kong Trailer
- English Trailer
- US TV Spots (x7)
- US Theatrical Teaser
- US Theatrical Trailer
- Japanese Teaser
- US Video Screener Promo
- Guy Laroche 1984 commercial with Jackie Chan & Michelle Yeoh
Available on 4K UHD and Blu-ray April 25th, 2023.
For more information or to purchase, head to the MVD Entertainment Group 4K UHD or Blu-ray Police Story 3 webpage.
Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews
Leave a Reply