Police Story (Ging Chaat Goo Si): Special Collector's Edition (1985)

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Released 22-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert)
Biographies-Cast-Jackie Chan - Animated Biography
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer-2
Interviews-Cast-Jackie Chan
Outtakes-Montage
Notes-Further Attractions
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 95:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jackie Chan
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jackie Chan
Brigitte Lin
Maggie Cheung
Bill Tung
Chor Yuen
Kenneth Tong
Charlie Cho
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music J. Peter Robinson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.55:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Outtakes are shown during end credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Chan Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) is an officer with the Hong Kong Police. During a raid on a shanty town, Ka-Kui arrests drug lord Chu Tu (Chor Yuen) and his secretary Salina (Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia). Ka-Kui's superiors decide that they will force Salina to testify against her boss by making him think that she has cut a deal with the police. They release her and assign Ka-Kui as her bodyguard. This causes Ka-Kui no end of grief, for not only must he convince Salina that she needs protection (which requires a little subterfuge on his part), but he must also deal with his jealous girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung Man Yuk).

    When Salina discovers the subterfuge and disappears, Chu Tu's lawyer gets him released on bail. The drug lord decides that Salina has to die, and Ka-Kui should be framed for her murder. A trap is baited, and Ka-Kui ends up on the run.

    This film was so successful in Hong Kong that it has so far spawned four sequels, the most recent of which was released in 2004. The main reasons for this success are the extraordinary action sequences, mostly performed by Chan himself and his team of death-defying stuntmen. The opening section of the film has more action than most films, with a gun battle in a shanty town ending with an explosive car chase through the shacks, followed by some remarkable stunts as Ka-Kui chases the villains who have commandeered a bus. Chan manages to latch on to the bus with an umbrella, and we see him being dragged along, then clambering on board the moving bus while the criminals try to knock him off. There are no stunt doubles here: you can clearly see Chan risking his skin.

    The film is full of spectacular stunts, right up to the closing set-piece in a shopping mall, another dangerous stunt which Chan performed himself without any safety gear. There are also several stunningly choreographed fight sequences. Chan manages to fight one band of villains while effortlessly leaping through a car window. You also get to see some of his acrobatics in less intense sequences, including a simple but balletic leap over a gate, and a complex bit of work involving a number of telephones.

    Perhaps less successful is Chan's trademark humour. Not that it isn't funny, but rather that the comic sequences are just a bit too long.

    The supporting cast includes a host of familiar faces, most notably Bill Tung Biu as Ka-Kui's immediate superior Inspector Wong. He crops up in the same role in the rest of the series, though not in the latest episode. This was one of Maggie Cheung Man Yuk's first major film roles, a character which she would also repeat in the next two instalments.

    There are several versions of this film, with some territories getting a slightly longer ending. This ending is included as an extra. Make sure you stick around for the closing credits, which as usual with Jackie Chan films show outtakes, with several stunts that went painfully wrong.

    This is generally regarded as one of Chan's best films, and it certainly is highly entertaining and exciting. The stunts are breathtaking and while it lags slightly during the comedy scenes, this is still great stuff.

    Police Story is one of the first batch of five releases from Universal in their Hong Kong Legends series, which features transfers licensed from the British-based company of that name. About 45 are planned to be released over the next 18 months. If they are all up to this standard, then Hong Kong film buffs are in for a treat.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, and according to those who have compared the identical UK transfer with other transfers in the correct aspect ratio, the transfer here is slightly cropped at the top and bottom.

    Apparently the original film elements were not stored in the best manner to preserve it in pristine condition. That being said, this looks worlds apart from the VHS transfer I have seen. The image is nice and sharp, well-detailed and clear. It is also nice and bright, with satisfactory contrast, though shadow detail is not the best. For example, just about every actor has black hair, and there are few shots in which the hair is anything but a black mass. You cannot pick out individual strands. Not that this is a major flaw, as you should be concentrating on the action. The film tends to flicker due to slight variations in brightness between frames.

    Colour is a little muted, with the red portion of the spectrum overemphasised. This makes flesh tones a little too brown and red objects tend to look too bright. Black levels are good throughout.

    There are no compression artefacts of any note. There is some telecine wobble, and the frame shakes a bit at the start of the film. The film is a bit grainy, but that seems to be a consequence of the state of the original material. There are a few minor film artefacts. Occasionally there are small white flecks, and a couple of times there are very faint vertical lines, but neither of these are a real issue.

    Optional English subtitles are provided, in a nice-sized white font. These are well timed and all of the dialogue seems to be translated.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change occurring at 82:53. This is at a quiet moment but is mid-scene, and the layer change was a little slower than normal, so it was a bit disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided. I listened to the Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and sampled the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which for some reason is the default track.

    Both these tracks are dubbed. In the way of all Hong Kong films of the era, it was shot silently and a soundtrack added later by voice artists and a professional dubbing company. That is not Jackie Chan's own voice on the soundtrack. Incidentally, the first modern film shot with synchronised sound in Hong Kong seems to have been Police Story 3: Supercop, one of the sequels to this film.

    Dialogue is audible, though whether it is understandable by a Cantonese speaker is a mystery to me. A few of the words I recognised from years of watching Hong Kong films, but I would be lost without the subtitles. Given that the film was dubbed, audio sync is imperfect, but the dubbing has been done very well nonetheless.

    The transfer is a little problematic. I would guess that in the original theatrical release the audio was mono or at best rudimentary stereo. Naturally this means that the surround remix is not up to the standard of a modern, purpose-recorded surround mix. The dialogue sounds as though it was recorded in a cardboard box, being a little muffled and flat-sounding. The effects and music sound better, being well spread across the main and rear channels and giving some occasional directional effects. The main gripe I have with this remix is the low frequency effects channel. It seems to be at way too high a level. Every kick and punch comes with a noticeable thump, whether it connects or not. I found this quite distracting and was tempted to switch the subwoofer off.

    Music is by J. Peter Robinson. The music is well integrated into the film, not something that is typical of Hong Kong cinema. It heightens the action sequences without drawing attention to itself. You also get to hear Jackie Chan singing the theme song during the closing credits.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    A short animated introduction with the film title scrolling across the screen and a shot from the film showing in the background.

Menu Animation & Audio

    A nicely animated menu. Scenes from the film play in the background while still photographs scroll across the screen.

Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert)

    This is a very informative commentary. Bey Logan is an Englishman who works in Hong Kong cinema and has made documentaries with Jackie Chan. In this commentary he gives a lot of background information about the film, and especially on the actors and stuntmen. For example, Bill Tung Biu had a night job as a pundit on horse racing broadcasts. Logan's enthusiastic delivery is quite fluid, and he sounds as though he is speaking off the cuff. All-in-all this is one of the better commentaries I have heard. The sound on the feature is muted during the commentary, and at one point Logan refers to something on the soundtrack that one cannot actually hear.

    Switching on the commentary track from the menus is a little cumbersome. It is not on the Special Features menu but on the Audio Options menu. Selecting the commentary track displays a couple of pages of text about Logan, and on the last page the option to switch the commentary on appears.

Biographies-Cast-Jackie Chan - Animated Biography (36:17)

    I understand that a lot of Hong Kong Legends releases include a scrolling text biography that is simultaneously voiced by someone referred to accurately in another review as "American Voice Over Man". This one is different. While we have the voiceover, on screen we are treated to some nice selections from Jackie Chan films, usually the ones being talked about. The vision has a large static frame of pictures of Chan that change every so often, so on small displays the action will be a little hard to see. This is quite a complete biography from Chan's birth up to about 2001, which goes into detail about his film career and touches on each of his films. A scrolling list of his credits appears at the end.

    There is also some information about forthcoming projects, one of which was to involve Chan as a window cleaner at the World Trade Centre who foils a plot to bomb the building. Not surprisingly this project fell over.

Gallery-Photo

    Some 33 publicity stills and lobby cards.

Theatrical Trailer-2 (4:58)

    Two trailers for the film. One is a trailer for the Hong Kong Legends DVD release, the other an original Hong Kong theatrical trailer. Both are widescreen and 16x9 enhanced.

Interviews-Cast-Jackie Chan (19:55)

    This is a lengthy piece to camera by the star discussing his stunt work. He also revisits the shopping mall where the final scenes were shot and discusses how he went about doing that remarkable stunt. This footage may well be excerpted from the Jackie Chan: My Stunts documentary mentioned in the audio commentary by Bey Logan.

Outtakes-Montage (2:55)

    This is a longer version of the end credits sequence where one can see even more outtake footage. This begins with the extended end sequence, which was used in several Asian territories for reasons explained in the audio commentary. This material is taken from the Japanese laserdisc edition of the film.

Notes and Trailers -Further Attractions (7:05)

    Trailers for the other four Hong Kong Legends releases, that is Iron Monkey, Fist of Fury, Armour of God and Once Upon a Time in China. Each also includes notes detailing the specifications of the discs, including aspect ratios and a list of extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc appears to be nearly identical to the UK Region 2 release by Hong Kong Legends, the only difference being a few extra trailers for other releases from that company. The Region 2 release is also coded for Region 4.

    There was a Region 3 Hong Kong release from Mega Star. This had the film in 2.28:1 but not 16x9 enhanced. Apparently the picture quality was not as good as the Hong Kong Legends release, but it was not cropped. There were cast and crew biographies, a film synopsis and a theatrical trailer. There was no English soundtrack, but there was a Mandarin surround track. This disc is no longer available.

    A newer Region 3 release from IVL has two original trailers plus trailers for the first two sequels. It also includes photo galleries and some outtake footage. It is in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, and also includes a Mandarin surround track and a Cantonese DTS track, both in 5.1. There is also a Cantonese 2.0 mono track. This disc is not available by itself, but comes as part of a three-disc set with the first two sequels. A 62 page booklet is included in the set.

    The German Region 2 release features an interactive DVD-ROM game and a German surround track, but no English subtitles.

    Unless you really want the DTS audio, the Hong Kong Legends release seems to be the best. Given that it is practically identical to the Region 2 release, there is no reason not to plump for the Region 4 version.

Summary

    Exciting, exhilarating, breathtaking, and that's just the first fifteen minutes!

    The video quality is excellent despite slight cropping.

    The audio quality is a little disappointing.

    An excellent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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