Saturday, April 30, 2011


New Police Story (2004)/ Benny Chan
In New Police Story, Benny Chan constructs multiple levels of conflict and thereby, multiple levels of resolution. Each character, whether minor or major, has a bone and the narrative gives everyone a chance to pick it. As a result, there are personal grudges to resolve, professional bets to win, and a general atmosphere of corny one-upmanship (‘whoever comes  last in case-solving will kowtow in front of the winner’ says a police chief to Chan.) Dynamics between most of the characters are fueled by a spirit of competition, and everyone is trying to score a point: this quality of the film even manifests literally inside the world of the film multiple times as well – the group of villains are all video-game fanatics and score ‘points’ by gunning coppers down and the penultimate sequence of the film takes place inside a play-store. But in a grand departure from all of these conflicts, the villain is revealed as essentially being a tragic figure with a father-complex: an Antoine Doinel like victim of unhealthy parentage that seems to have ‘forced’ him into crime. Such abrupt realignment of sympathies is rampant in the larger direction of the film: Benny Chan cannot decide if he has been hired to direct a action-comedy like the earlier films in the ‘series’, or if he is to soak a film decked in an overbearing sinister atmosphere. As a result, it is none, although even by supervillain standard, the group of villains commits acts that are hard to fathom. Chan also tries to induce the film with hokey social statements (the villains are all rich kids of tycoons who ignored them), but the greatest revelation of the film is this: it is futile to engage in combat of any sort with Jackie Chan if there are props around.

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