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August 03, 2015

Police Story: Lockdown

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Jing cha gu shi 2013
Ding Sheng - 2013
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

Jackie Chan is showing his age. And it's about time. The Beatles' era shagginess replaced by a short, almost military trim. Even without the scars, make-up for his character, there are the creases on Chan's face. You can see the years of brutal punishment taking its toll, almost Sixty years old at the time of filming, with a career spanning over forty years. Even with the hair cut drastically short, Chan can still be recognized by the back of his head. Being on screen in so many films can do that for some stars.

Just as Chan has lost is recognizable long locks, he's first seen lost in an unrecognizable China. Unlike the previous Police Story films, Chan is now a cop in Beijing. He looking for a bar on a street that makes the Las Vegas strip look under lit in comparison. This is an unfamiliar China, where people are celebrating Christmas and getting drunk in public. The bar Chan is looking for isn't just some little dive, but a huge former factory with several levels, with patrons dressed in high fashion and leather, punks with foot high mohawks, and young women covered in make-up from MAC and Sephora. The scene is one of the most vulgar of western culture run amok.

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Chan's character, Zhong, goes to this huge bar, more accurately a nightclub, to meet with his estranged daughter, Miao. The meeting takes place during an invitation only anniversary party for the nightclub. Miao reveals that she is now the girlfriend of the nightclub owner, Wu. For Zhong, it's bad enough that Wu is much older than his daughter, but worse is when he and several patrons are held hostage as part of an elaborate scheme concocted by Wu, revenge for the untimely death of his younger sister, against the people he holds responsible.

Ding, who also wrote the screenplay and edited the film, goes for some art house influence in his narrative. There are several flashbacks as Zhong reflects on several previous arrests he's made, thinking that these are the ones Wu refers to when Wu negotiates the release of an unnamed prisoner. There are also flashes of alternative scenes as imagined by Zhong, when trying to choose a correct course of action. When the group of hostages take turns explaining their roles in the events that led to the death of Wu's sister, there is the influence of Rashomon.

If the narrative is sometimes overly elaborate, the fight scenes are not. Gone are the extended fights, combining martial arts mastery and silent comedy use of props. The fights are short, serious, and in confining spaces, with the punches and kicks edited in quick succession. Police Story: Lockdown ends with the familiar outtakes of stunts gone wrong. The outtakes might be considered a gesture towards fans from a star attempting to re-invent himself for films that make fewer demands on the physicality that brought him world-wide fame.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 3, 2015 02:03 PM