The “Police Story” franchise hasn’t always been consistent with it star playing different protagonists and the tone of the series changing, but each installment has parallel star Jackie Chan goal as an actor. Making it hard to believe a film series that’s known for stunt work becomes obsolete with a focus on drama in this installment. It’s a departure for the “Police Story” series and Jackie Chan as an actor as he puts forth into going into a new direction. “Police Story 2013” is not the series entry fans would expect, but demonstrates Chan experimentation as an actor isn’t afraid to take risks.
Police Story 2013 is about a criminal looking for the release of a long-time prisoner taking a police officer, his daughter, and a group of strangers hostage. The plot is “Die Hard”-esque taking place entirely in one location and just like its last two predecessor this entry follows a different character. Unfortunately what it doesn’t borrow from “Die Hard” is intelligence. The main character, Zhong Wen, will usually attempt to imagine what will happen in a given scenario. This plot device comes with mixed results showing Zhong Wen is looking at all the possibilities, but in context it also means if something exciting happens it holds no bearing on the plot. That also applies to Zhong Wen flashbacks when he’s figuring out who the villain is and his motivation for holding certain people hostage. Just like Wen’s imagination the flashbacks come with mixed results as most of the action scenes are in flashbacks usually with no relevance to the main plot. Although the major gripe towards this film has be the severe lack of henchmen. Now the film setting is a old factory turned nightclub which from what we seen is huge. Our villain of the film appeared to have only brought four henchmen working for him to secured the area, keep an eye on the hostages, look for Zhong Wen, make bombs, and other activity is understaffed. Of course in any action movie we expect the hero will overcome the odds a role that is reverse in this. It doesn’t work because the few henchman know only to do one thing leaving the audience to wait for the inevitable to occur.
On a positive note Zhong Wen is well developed as a flawed hero with his actions resulting in some sort of casualty on himself. Going up against a villain who’s not only just as calculating, but pushes him morally drawing the line between being a good father and being a good officer. The film villain, Wu Jiang, is an entirely different story. Wu Jiang motivation somewhat parallels Wen as a character as both lost someone important to them effecting them drastically. Both characters are very human, but the villain scheme is out of place. It’s requires you to disbelief reality once his plan get started. Only occurring and working as well as it did through sheer luck and coincidence. Supporting characters while not as defined do play a role in the plot once the mystery becomes clearer. Fitting it’s main motif of spider webs seeing how seemingly unrelated events are connected. Doing just enough in it limited setting to keep things interesting even if it doesn’t reach the emotional height it aimed for.
Jackie Chan plays a more grounded, vulnerable, and flawed hero. The role demands Chan to carry the film solely on his acting. Relying little on humor Chan is serious all the way through. Coming off as man who’s out of his own league burdened by his troubled personal life. Getting across his job has taken a serious told on Chan as throughout the film Chan is always suspicious of other people. Keeping his emotions restricted from doing his job even when interacting to others. His trust on characters will determine how he comes across towards other. Anyone going into this solely to see Jackie Chan in action mode will be disappointed. What little fight scenes there are don’t last long. This is a role that demands Chan the actor to take center stage over acrobatics and martial artist Chan. For a man whose 59 he’s still fast in his fights and while his dangerous stunts are absent Chan himself isn’t. Yu Liu who plays Wu Jiang stays one note hardly changing his facial expressions. His line delivery on the other hand are more varied in invoking emotions. Tian Jing whatever screen time she has performs well having solid chemistry with Chan. Director Sheng Ding did a fine job as a director, but as an editor is sloppy when it comes to the action. What little action there is rapidly cut, shaking, and distorted making action scenes a series of jigsaw pieces that don’t fit.
Police Story 2013 is a huge departure both for the series and star Jackie Chan focusing heavily on drama and spending little on action. Chan demonstrates strength in his acting abilities widening his range as an actor than just being a man of action. It’s a film that will differentiate the true Chan fans that like the actor for his risks over the non fans who just want action film escapism. Anyone expecting the typical “Police Story” or Jackie Chan film will leave disappointed, but anyone interesting in seeing the series and star experiment will find a decent movie.