Crime Story


Dec 26, 2012

Crime Story (1993)
Director: Kirk Wong
Writers: Teddy Chan and Cheung Chi-sing
Starring: Jackie Chan, Kent Cheng, Ken Lo, Law Kar-ying, and Blackie Ko

The Plot: Inspector Eddie Chan (Jackie Chan) is a dedicated cop who happens to be going through a very rough period. Recently, he has been feeling the psychological effects of one particularly violent altercation that saw him shooting several men in self-defense. Life goes on for Chan, however, as he simply speaks with a psychiatrist on a regular basis while still hitting the streets and doing his job. He is ultimately assigned a case that seems as if it should be a walk in the park, look after a rich businessman that feels as if he is being stalked. It seems like a cut and dry case of paranoia without much of a foundation, but it turns out that the businessman wasn’t far off the mark. While Eddie investigates the situation, the businessman is kidnapped right out from underneath him. This leads Chan on a desperate search within the underworld to find the men responsible for this abduction, but unknown to Chan, one of the main culprits behind this horrible situation is a fellow detective played by Kent Cheng. Will Chan be able to fight the villains that are on the street as well as the ones hiding within his own precinct?

The Review
Jackie Chan, for Asian film fans, is more than just a superstar. Perhaps the rest of the world feels the same way, but I know that for those of us who follow more than the Rush Hour series, his contributions have meant a lot to us on a personal level. The sheer number of projects he has been involved in that revolutionized action cinema… his contributions are invaluable! As he gets older, it has become obvious that his stunt work has needed to slow down. I’m sure that most film geeks are actually rather thankful for this, because we all know that Jackie has sacrificed his body more than enough for the fans. As he gets older, some of his interviews have also been shading his offscreen persona with some rather unfavorable characteristics (see his recent comments about Chinese citizens needing less freedom, more control, etc.). Yet, what filmmaker or entertainer hasn’t said something that we don’t agree with? Jackie is Jackie, and his body of work speaks for itself. Now that he is moving more into dramatic work, some fans may be a bit worried about this. Can Jackie actually deliver in films that don’t rely on high action or intense stunt work? To these people, I would always recommend going back to revisit Crime Story. A favorite of mine from Jackie’s more dramatic work during the 90s, Crime Story is a mix of Jackie’s expected action as well as a deliberately paced thriller with very strong dramatic leanings.

I believe that I will always remember Crime Story as the movie that truly introduced me to Kent Cheng. Although I had seen him in many previous movies, he had never stood out to me as anything other than the silly “fat guy” from the world of Hong Kong cinema. Crime Story was the first time that I was able to see him stand out in a really strong role, and he always leaves me very impressed when I sit down to watch Crime Story. Crafting a character who is so devious that he has managed to fool the world around him, Cheng manages to play the role with a sense of reality that is unlike the majority of Hong Kong action villains. He is profusely sweating all throughout the film, always worried that someone will figure out his double life, and he has a convincing background that explains his antagonism towards his job. Although this isn’t a first class drama, as it still relies heavily on action, this is one of the more intelligent films from Jackie Chan’s work during this period. Jackie Chan himself steps into some very heavy shoes as well, playing a police officer who is haunted by the recent brutal run-ins that he has had. This is not the super cop or fun loving Jackie that we all know and love, this is Chan playing a more difficult role. A role that was so tough that, rumor is, he made last minute edits to the film in order to remove some of the harsh elements within the plotline. If true, the end result doesn’t really show, because this is still a pretty harsh movie by Jackie Chan standards.

Crime Story makes a perfect pairing with The Protector, and it was a good call by Shout! Factory to throw these two on the same disc. Although I would consider this to be a much better Jackie Chan film, the two serve as interesting parallels from one another. Each movie shows a vastly different side of the regular Jackie Chan roles that we are accustomed to. Crime Story is probably the movie that Jackie had hoped The Protector would ultimately be. It finds the perfect blend between being his particular style of action and being a very adult thriller. Catapulted by excellent performances and lively characters, Crime Story already has way more going for it at the start of the project than The Protector ever had. Originally it seems that the film was the brainchild of Kirk Wong and was influenced by a real life kidnapping case. For whatever reason, Jackie was apparently very intrigued by the project, and audiences can maybe even see this film as him making retribution for his disappointment in the Protector fiasco. Ultimately, I do think that this turns out to be the perfect film for Jackie to stretch out and do new things with, and that’s partly because it finds the correct blend between the action and the dramatic.

The action is of course an integral part of any Jackie Chan title from the 90s, and Crime Story is most certainly typical of Jackie’s output in this regard. The only difference this time around is the context for the action (ie, Jackie isn’t always avoiding the fight) and the attitude surrounding most of the action scenes (ie, very little comedy is used to set the stage). The action isn’t as sporadic as a Police Story sequel, but it is certainly executed in a fashion that is just as high concept as his other work. The action sequence that we cut to during the early half of the movie, which explains Officer Chan’s post-traumatic stress disorder, is probably the most exhilarating piece within the movie. Featuring a stunt that supposedly broke both of Jackie’s legs, this bit shows a Heat-style getaway sequence that is rife with machinegun fire and traditional Jackie Chan acrobatic martial arts. Later in the movie there are some other great stunts involving explosives, fire, and plates of glass. While nowhere near as loaded to the brim with martial mayhem as Police Story III, Crime Story offers enough to service the fans while also delivering a very intriguing story with fleshed out characters and great performances. That makes it one of Jackie’s best.

The Conclusion
There are varying viewpoints on Crime Story, but I think it is safe to say that I have a very high opinion of it. It’s a movie that I originally liked when first viewing it, but I have become an even bigger fan throughout the years. It may not be the very best Jackie Chan movie from the nineties, but it is certainly a forgotten gem that showcases his talent as well as that of an awesome supporting cast. So, I ultimately give this one a nice four out of five. It isn’t Jackie Chan’s very best work, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it creeping up any fan’s top ten list.

Screen Caps not taken from the Bluray release from Shout! Factory

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