Police Story III: Supercop (1992)

Directed by: Stanley Tong
Written by: Edward Tang, Fibe Ma Mei Ping & Lee Wai Yee
Producers: Edward Tang & Willie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Yuen Wah, Kenneth Tsang & Maggie Cheung

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Nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1993:
Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
Best Action Choreography (Stanley Tong, Wong Ming Sing, Chan Man Shing, Dang Tak Wing & Ailen Sit)

Awards at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards 1993:
Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
Best Editing (Cheung Kar-Fei & Peter Cheung)

The Police Story-series has to date reached four parts and all have been quite well received all over the world. When the time came to make the third part the director of the first two, Jackie Chan, let stuntman Stanley Tong sit in the director's chair. A decision that led to two other collaborations between Jackie and Stanley (Police Story 4: First Strike & Rumble In The Bronx).

In most Jackie Chan films you only need a minimal plot to carry the movie and here is a good example of that:

Inspector Chen Chia-Chu (Jackie Chan) team up with a Chinese policewoman (Michelle Yeoh) for an undercover assignment which could lead to the capture of Asias biggest druglord; Thaibat (Kenneth Tsang from The Killer). But first they must get close and gain the trust of Thaibats right hand man called Panther (Yuen Wah from Eastern Condors).

I don't regard this as the best of the series but it still triumphs in many aspects like the other parts did. The script take our characters to a few different Asian countries which makes the film feel a bit like a James Bond adventure. Apparently the director insisted that the movie should be shot in sync sound, something which was rare in Hong Kong at that time. So we do get to hear the real voices of Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh for once. Some dialogue scenes are a bit on the boring side and they sort of show Stanley Tongs lack of experience in directing these types of scenes. You quickly forget about them since the movie isn't really about dialogue but action!

Jackie and his stunt team chooses to focus their attention on more elaborate action set pieces rather than lengthy martial arts fights. Oh yes, there are a few fights but we do get more gunplay and crazy stunts. The highlights includes Jackie's fight with Sam Wong in the beginning part of the film and the BIG action climax, which, to me, ranks as one of the most entertaining and thrilling Hong Kong movies has to offer.

In a Jackie Chan film you rarely judge the ACTING performances as such. The characters are flat and only a little development is thrown in just so the plot can move forward. For this movie it's the stunts and ACTION performances that are supposed to be reviewed. Jackie Chan was in great shape in 1992 and some of things he does here are just insane (like hanging from a helicopter ladder and going straight through a big billboard sign!). His acting is adequate and that's all it takes for this movie.

If you're a woman and is acting against Jackie, there's a big chance he will upstage you quite easily. That's not the case of Michelle Yeoh. She is equally good in her action and stunt scenes and especially I enjoyed her small bursts of martial arts as well as her famous motorcycle stunt. Michelle also brings a toughness to her role which really strengthens her character and you can safely say that the filmmakers behind Tomorrow Never Dies probably saw a frame or two of Police Story III.

I wouldn't say that Police Story III: Supercop is a classic but it's a terrific actionfilm and a good first watch for newcomers to Hong Kong cinema.

The DVD:

Attentive readers would know that this used to be a review of the vcd that I bought instead of the heavily flawed Megastar dvd. Well, now Megastar's rights to Police Story III: Supercop has passed on to Deltamac and they've improved upon the previous release to warrant an upgrade for both vcd and dvd owners.

The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is presented on the disc but Deltamac's edition is, like Megastar's was, slightly framed too high (or perhaps zoomboxed?). To be honest, this is only really noticeable if you keep staring at the top frame all through the movie. The vcd is framed differently as seen below:

Deltamac DVD:

Megastar VCD:

The Megastar dvd was reportedly way too bright looking which caused black levels to drop but I haven't seen that so I can't compare. Deltamac's new edition looks pretty good to me. Detail and sharpness are ok and the print isn't too heavily damaged. At times I thought the transfer was a bit too dark but it didn't affect the night scenes for example. So overall this is a flawed transfer but certainly on par with the Hong Kong dvd transfer standard.

The sync sound Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 track didn't feature any front channel separation as far as I could hear and therefore is basically mono. I believe there was a Stereo or Pro Logic track originally produced for the movie so it's a little disappointing that it doesn't appear here. Having said that, the track sounds clear and the effects and dialogue sound ok for a mono presentation. Certainly much better than the heavily criticized 5.1 remix that Megastar had on their dvd. A Mandarin 2.0 dub is also included.

The optional English subtitles seemed very familiar to me and that's because they're copied from the original theatrical subs. This means that, in a few scenes, the grammar and sentence structure does confuse the viewer as to what is going on. The little plot there is can easily be followed and the original burned in subs weren't that easy to read either. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles can also be selected. The only extra is the theatrical trailer.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson