The second round of Shout! Factory’s Jackie Chan double features brings us the international superstar’s most entertaining and well-regarded Hong Kong police actioners from the ‘80s. The high definition presentation is serviceable at best, but once again the budget pricing and lack of competitive alternatives make the release hard to pass up.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Cantonese 2.0 DTS-HDMA, Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min. / 2 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/16/2013
After the disappointing experience of The Protector, the James Glickenhaus-directed action film that tried (and failed) to make Jackie Chan appeal to American audiences, Chan co-wrote, directed and starred in the 1985 Hong Kong blockbuster Police Story. Though once again playing a police detective beset by a criminal kingpin and his thugs, Chan showed all films of this sort are not created equal and that he was capable of creating one of the best. Naturally, the plot serves as an excuse to see the likable martial artist and acrobat at the height of his powers, but who said audiences expected anything different? And sequence after sequence, Chan excels at the delivery, his pyrotechnic slide down a multi-story light fixture remaining one of the most iconic action sequences in Asian cinema.
The Production Rating: 4/5
In the inevitable sequel, Police Story 2, Chan solidifies himself as a people pleaser by bringing more of the same – same crime lord Chu Tao (Yuen Chor) up to no good (at least for the first half), same girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) being in the wrong place at the wrong time, same endless waves of henchman for Chan to dispatch with every conceivable method, though the final boss character proves more a physical match. For the less enthusiastic, the sequel will seem like the typical "bigger and louder" retread, but for those who felt the first film was too short, it will seem like a natural continuation of the story, not unlike Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Rocky II. Just as those two American films are in many ways inseparable, so too are the first pair of Police Story movies, making Shout! Factory’s double feature lineup fitting, if not ultimately convenient.
Appearances of the Police Story films on both DVD and Blu-ray have never impressed, so it’s not surprising to find Shout! Factory’s effort is no different than the others.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
Framed at 2.35:1, the 1080p, AVC-encoded image for the first film has a hard, digitally processed appearance that more than anything affects overall sharpness and detail, which look particularly atrocious in wide shots. Contrast is consistently compressed at the lower end, giving the image a strong visual ‘pop’ but obscuring much of the detail in shadows. Color is nicely saturated for the most part, though flesh tones often looking excessively pink. The film is also riddled with scratches, dust and dirt, and in some scenes there’s keystoning distortion that suggests something was misaligned in the telecine. All of this is pretty bad, to be sure, but there aren’t other options available, even overseas. The film’s master really needs to be redone, but the odds of that happening seem pretty slim, despite the film’s international appeal. The only upside is the title is priced accordingly, which is a small incentive but an incentive nonetheless.
The second film, also framed at 2.35:1 and AVC-encoded, shows a noticeable improvement across the board, looking more filmlike and naturally detailed than its predecessor. There’s still some strange distortion on the sides of the frame, however, and hints of edge haloing, but overall it’s a much more pleasing image.
Police Story: 2.5/5
Police Story 2: 3.5/5
The Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks on both films have more than a few limitations, but totally in keeping with the films’ origins and vintage. Dialogue and higher frequency effects sound crisp enough, but any surround activity is bluntly implemented and not particularly immersive. There’s really no LFE activity either, though the track has a consistent depth and fullness, particularly with the second films more over-the-top sound effects.
Audio Rating: 2.5/5
The bonus material consists entirely of vintage marketing materials and outtakes.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
- Deleted Scenes (2:18, SD)
- Outtakes (2:40, SD)
- Alternate Ending (3:34, SD)
- Extended Opening (6:55, SD)
- U.S. Trailer (2:21, HD - matted widescreen)
- Hong Kong Trailer (2:45, HD)
- Outtakes (2:06, SD)
- International Trailer (1:53, HD - matted widescreen)
- Hong Kong Trailer (4:01, HD)
- Alternate Outtakes (3:14, HD)
Shout! Factory turns in a serviceable presentation and perfunctory set of bonus materials for its latest Jackie Chan double feature, the first two Police Story films. Though it makes for a merely average release for two of Chan’s most popular movies, the sub-$15 street price (and eventual drop from there) should give most collectors the incentive to buy despite the shortcomings.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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