Movie Review: ‘Police Story: Lockdown’

First, I’ll admit that my knowledge of Jackie Chan’s filmography is very limited (mostly to the American comedies). I have loved him in everything I have seen him in, but I am well aware that he has starred in over a hundred films that I have not seen; including the five previous Police Story movies. Luckily, it is not necessary to have seen (or even have knowledge about) the other movies in this series for this one to be enjoyable. This new Police Story seems to be a stand-alone film that has no apparent ties to previous films; I only learned of the previous films after I watched this one and I don’t feel like I was missing anything while watching the movie.

In this Police Story, Jackie Chan plays Zhong Wen, a police captain in China who is trying to meet up with his estranged daughter, Miao (Jin Tian), on the anniversary of her mother’s death. He finds her at the Wu Bar and things go bad enough when it is clear his daughter wants nothing to do with him (even trying to hurt him emotionally); but the night gets even worse when her boyfriend, the club owner Wu Jiang (Liu Ye), takes Zhong, Miao, and all of the club’s patrons hostage. From here, the film is a suspenseful cop thriller in which Zhong tries to work out motives, keep everything inside and outside calm under pressure, and make sure everyone stays alive, including his daughter (on a happy note, her grudge against her father does not last very long after her boyfriend turns bad).

Some of Jackie Chan’s martial arts skills are on display, but not as much as other movies. The tone of this movie is definitely one of words over violence. For the most part, Zhong does his best to talk things out when he can; even going as far as trying to keep Wu alive when it appears almost certain his time is up. Still, the martial arts that we are treated to is very well choreographed, realistic, impressive, and fits almost flawlessly into the narrative.

Speaking of the narrative, there are a few twists and unexpected surprises as the story moves forward into the past. This minor wordplay aside, I do not want to say too much more about the story as I believe the revelations are what make this movie worth watching. The dramatic story unfolds methodically over the 100+ minutes and I will add that the movie plays with reality a little. Meaning, there are few times where Zhong, unbeknownst to the audience, “imagines” a possible outcome while trying to think his way out of certain situations. These few additional scenes aide in keeping the audience guessing until the very end.

The version I saw was subtitled as the characters speak Mandarin (according to IMDB; I am not well-versed enough to identify and/or distinguish most languages other than English). If you do not speak Mandarin or cannot follow subtitles or cannot find a version that is dubbed, you may, unfortunately, be missing out on a great Police Story. However, anyone who can watch this movie will find an entertaining, engaging, thrilling, heartbreaking story that is well worth their time.

One final note, stay for the credits. There are some hilarious bloopers and behind the scenes takes. Jackie Chan always seems like a down-to-Earth and funny guy in his outtakes. Available in stores August 11.

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