Police Story III: Super Cop Blu-ray Review
Police Story III: Super Cop comes to Region A-locked Hong Kong Blu-ray with a solid but far from spectacular 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. The first release was plagued with problems, almost all of which took you to the lower end from what you would expect from an HD upgrade. This third instalment fares a little better, but I’m guessing that this is largely as a result of it being a comparatively more recent production, made for a higher budget. Detail is generally at an acceptable level, it never drifts into the best of what High Def can do – even on an ‘older’ title – but it is better than any version of this that you would have come across on SD-DVD. The outdoor scenes fare far better than on the previous Police Story entries, which is helpful considering that this is an almost entirely daylight-lit, exterior-based affair. The colour scheme suffers quite badly – most tones are pretty faded and there’s nothing particularly bright or vivid to liven up the proceedings – but skin tones seem relatively natural. Black levels are nothing to write home about, but, all in all, there is also nothing distinctly offensive which will truly affect your visual enjoyment of this movie. It’s a relatively low-budget (high for Hong Kong, low in comparison with the US) early nineties production which is never likely to look demo-quality on Blu-ray – not even close to it – but still trounces on the previous poor SD-DVD renditions.
On the aural front we get an original Cantonese language Dolby True HD 7.1 track which certainly does the material justice, especially given its inherent limitations. Police Story III marked the first Jackie Chan production to have sync-sound – i.e. the first movie where the dialogue was recorded whilst filming the scenes, rather than dubbed in later – and this gives us much better clarity and coherence on the dialogue front. Effects are still pretty restricted, especially given some of the expansive stunts performed, but the majority of them get better presentation across the surrounds than I previously encountered for Police Story. Gunshots sound more powerful – ring true – and, sure, the directionality isn’t superb, but we do get some rear surround action during the more engaging moments. The score is an updated variation of the classic Police Story theme, and still seems quite dated, but it is both presented far better and has aged far better, even adding a little fun and excitement where appropriate. Bass is still limited, but this is all still a marginal step up over previous Kam and Ronson productions, and certainly an upgrade from previous SD-DVD incarnations of the movie. For the cut international release of this movie, rather unusually, both Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh provided the dialogue for the dubbed English version, but we don’t get either that version, or that track here. Thankfully there are decent enough English subtitles which, whilst far from perfection, are also far from objectionable.
Interview with the Director Stanley Tong
Here we get a 17 minute interview with the Director, who narrates several key scenes of the movie, whilst dissecting the work done to make them happen. He talks about the police cooperation, the difficulties clearing the streets and shooting some of the scenes and the complexity of some of the shots. It’s actually quite an interesting offering, made all the more enjoyable by the presence of English subtitles.
B-Roll footage / Outtakes
The NG Shot feature is nearly an hour in length, and is basically all outtakes! The one downside? There aren’t any subtitles. But for those who love the outtakes at the end of a Jackie Chan movie – and who doesn’t?! – there’s still plenty of interesting material here, and it also gives you some insight into the work put in behind the scenes, the on-set temperament (which often seemed quite jovial) and the sheer audacity of the stuntwork.
There’s also a Photo Gallery which includes 2 minutes’ worth of shots (at roughly 7 second intervals) showcasing on-set stills and promo shots, many of which are pretty cool.
The 2 minute original trailer is basically a collection of some of the best and most action-packed moments of the movie.
Jackie Chan’s longest and arguably most popular series of movies is the Police Story franchise, which consists of five films made between 1986 and 2004. After two eventful Hong Kong-based action-comedy-thrillers, Chan, under the Direction of Stanley Tong, took the action to Mainland China, Thailand, and Malaysia, partnering up with female action star Michelle Yeoh for double the ass-kicking in Police Story III: Super Cop. Despite being made several years after its predecessors, and for a markedly bigger budget – and despite toning down the goofball humour in favour of straight thriller plotting – this second sequel is a little dry for the most part, and takes the best part of an hour and a half to kick into full stride and provide you with a suitable denouement. Still, there are humorous elements peppered throughout, a smattering of stuntwork and a couple of nice martial arts moments, all of which will just about keep you going until the excellent, jaw-droppingly dangerous stunt-packed finale.
As part of the Hong Kong Blu-ray release of the Police Story films, this third entry fares distinctly better than the two previous instalments, still not coming close to fully utilising the capabilities of the High Definition technology, but still standing out as a more noteworthy upgrade from the previous SD-DVD incarnations of the movie, not least in its provision of the longer, Hong Kong uncut version of the movie. Fans of Jackie Chan will likely enjoy the refreshingly professional nature of the production, and won’t be able to live without seeing some of the excellent final stunts; and fans of Michelle Yeoh will likely love seeing her kick ass as good if not better than Chan himself.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.25
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