Friday, March 14, 2008

Crime Story

The Action Mutant…
cannot thank the Chinese enough for their creative film titles.

Crime Story

review by Joe Burrows

This has been a Jackie Chan film that has been on the bubble for many years now. It was originally released in Hong Kong in 1993 and was slated to be released by Miramax in the U.S. after Rumble in the Bronx. Chan, having the clout in America to do just about anything, denied its release and Supercop was released instead. It ended up getting a video and (very limited) theater release by Dimension in 1996, then was pretty much forgotten. I have personally been waiting for this film to get discovered for American DVD release and the “Dragon Dynasty” series has finally come through with a pretty good edition. Why so long for the wait? Well, Jackie does some shocking things here, like holding a gun and acting. What?

The Plot, as it was:
Jackie plays Eddie Chan, a cop suffering from burnout after having to kill some suspects. He doesn’t have a lot of time for it to sink in however, as a wealthy construction developer (Law Hang Kang) is kidnapped and held for ransom by a gang led by crooked Detective Hung (Kent Cheng). Eddie is in a race against the clock to find the developer and runs into no help when Hung is assigned as his partner to look over the case.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
As you may have figured by now, Crime Story is not the quintessential “Jackie Chan film”. Being based on a true kidnapping case, it contains none of Chan’s goofy face mugging or pratfalls. Hell, he doesn’t even break out the martial arts until the last 15 minutes! And I, for one, can live with that. Chan does a commendable job with a straight faced role and still comes off as the heroic type he’s known for. It may be a shock to the system to see Chan it such dark, seedy settings at first but there are enough twists and copious amounts of action in the story to make it one of his more viewable films. The car chase near the beginning is a pretty intense watch and Chan’s fights in the middle and end of the film are more than up to his high standard. Cheng has the looks and the chops to play a rotten S.O.B. and he plays the frustration of seeing his plan fall apart well. Of course, there is that down time where the audience is waiting for Jackie to put 1 and 2 together but the conclusion has enough action in it to make that forgivable. Don’t let the fact that the names John Woo or Chow Yun-Fat aren’t anywhere to be found fool you; Crime Story stands on its on merits with its unlikely star in tow.

Body Count/Violence: 31. Seeing that this isn’t your (trademark) “typical Jackie Chan film”, more people get mowed down by gunfire than anything else in this film (with a moderate amount of blood). There are explosions and a pair of sick motorcycle crashes along with Jackie being in combat. Though he uses his gun for most of the picture, Chan gets into usual form in the last 15 minutes, putting people through tables and signs at a quick clip. My favorite death however, is from the fight at the theater when Jackie knocks a guy off of a makeshift bamboo scaffold and sends him bouncing off of several poles like something from the overturning of the Titanic.

Sexuality/Nudity: Ling Ling Pan (the aptly named Gaga) has her skirt pulled up by Hung in an elevator to reveal her lingerie. It gets stripped off but nothing is seen and it’s only implied as to what was going on in the elevator. If this was an American film, I’m sure Aerosmith would be blaring to really hammer the point home. Going….down?

Language/Dialogue: Very mild. I don’t even remember any F bombs, which a film like this would be rife with usually.

How bad was it?:
It depends on who you talk to. Hardcore Chan fans don’t like the fact that their hero isn’t smiling or doing continuous flips. Actual film critics were more forgiving but some still couldn’t get over the fact that Chan wasn’t killing himself every 5 minutes to satisfy their needs. Boo freakin’ hoo, I say.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
It depends on which studio you mean, too. Golden Harvest released it in 1993 and it earned $27.5 at the HK box office. Dimension released it on video in America and dumped it in a theater or two on 8/30/96, raking in a paltry $194,720.

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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