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July 2016

Police Story: Lockdown

cast: Jackie Chan, Ye Liu, Tian Jing, Tao Yin, Yiwei Lui

director: Ding Sheng

106 minutes (15) 2013
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Kaleidoscope
Blu-ray region B

RATING: 7/10
review by Ian Shutter

Police Story: Lockdown

Captain Zhong (Jackie Chan) attends a family meeting in Wu's bar, where he finds a club owner is his rebellious daughter Miao's latest boyfriend. Zhong takes an instant dislike to the older man, but Miao (Tian Jing) argues him into silence. Tensions soon boil over into outright violence when the vengeful Wu kidnaps his club's patrons and sparks a major hostage crisis in Beijing.

Police Story: Lockdown is not closely associated with any of Jackie Chan's other/ previous Police Story movies. In fact, this one starts off as something like Die Hard in a nightclub scenario, but soon complicates its suspense with flashback sequences that expand the mystery narrative from the siege, its shoot-outs and various kung fu bouts to tell a police story that reaches far beyond the crucible-like confines of a nightclub's building. Much of movie's early action occurs in flashbacks, as Zhong recalls the vivid dangers of crime-fighting, such as an encounter with white-haired Yue - a gang leader and vicious thug that Zhong fought once before, and a valiant attempt by Zhong to get a suicidal man down safely from a roof-top. This jumper scene is particularly reminiscent of a similar set-up in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry (1971), but also copies a key stunt from Lethal Weapon (1987).

With this in mind, the director Ding Sheng might be accused, and fairly accurately so, of simply borrowing memorable gags from American movies, but there is more going on here than just imitating Hollywood. This is a more sombre and far grittier picture, quite unlike the comedy adventures of previous efforts in the Police Story franchise. I enjoyed this movie as a serious thriller, despite its sometimes preposterous sub-plots that lead unstoppably towards an explosive finale astutely blending together John Woo's styling and Michael Bay's comic-bookish flourishes.

The nightclub is a former factory block that here becomes the crook's fortress in post-industrial settings like every comicbook super-villain's lair all wired up with deterrent bombs. While surrounded by snipers and SWAT, the villain demands entertainments like Zhong's mid-film cage fight against a superior henchman that our aged detective (Chan was turning 60 when he made this movie) cannot, realistically, or convincingly or even possibly defeat. When the villain stages a mock trial in order to solve a puzzle concerning a girl's tragic death, the storytelling shifts gears yet again, denying viewers the relative comfort of easy predictability. Although the slickness of production values in Police Story: Lockdown is occasionally undermined by the typically melodramatic sentimentality that often dogs Asian action movie, this is still a worthwhile vehicle for Chan's newfound determination to escape from a childish past of warm fuzzy humour and confront a more complex future of cinematic maturity that still remains rooted in compelling portraits of individual heroism.



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