Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crime Story - A review

As good fortune would have it (because I have wanted a copy of this movie for the longest time) I laid my hands on a copy of Crime Story recently.

If you haven't seen this particular Jackie movie I have to say it is not your usual light but action packed Jackie Chan movie from the 80's. The movie is loosely based on a true story surrounding the kidnapping of a Hong Kong businessman. Jackie plays a police dectective (yes again!) who is suffering from PTSD and who investigates the kidnapping.

The movie won and was nominated for several awards:

1993 Golden Horse Film Festival
Won: Best Actor (Jackie Chan)

1994 Hong Kong Film Awards
Won: Best Film Editing (Peter Cheung)
Nomination: Best Action Choreography (Jackie Chan)
Nomination: Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
Nomination: Best Director (Kirk Wong)
Nomination: Best Picture
Nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Kent Cheng)

An interesting factoid about the movie is that it was filmed back-to-back with City Hunter and two more different movies you cannot imagine.

Crime Story, despite winning the accolades it did, in my opinion is one of Jackie's underestimated movies by both fans and critics. It performed very poorly at the box office and put Jackie off making more serious drama for years which is a great pity because Jackie shows in this movie that he is more than capable of expressing strong emotion and handling a dramatic role more than adequately.

Unlike many of Jackie's movies his character in this film is far more well rounded and developed and Jackie handles the emotional complexity of a cop on the edge extremely well. Even in the opening scene, before you fully know what the state of mind of the character is, Jackie's expressions and posture convey the stress this character is experiencing extremely well.

The other characters are not left out in this film either. All the other characters are also well developed and their motivations for their actions are clearly shown with a few simple but very expressive scenes. Although one is left wondering if the director of the movie was trying to send a subtle message at one point about the deservedness of the kidnapping but this idea is abandoned and not taken up at a later point in the film and ultimately one becomes quite sympathetic towards the victim.

Another plot theme not quite as well developed as one would like ties in with the idea that the kidnapping was in some way brought on himself by the victim but this time through the motivations of the antagonists who commit the kidnapping. However this is also dropped in favour of the 'corrupt policeman in cahoots with bad guys' explanation and from that point on the film focuses primarily around the antagonism between Jackie and Inspector Hung Ting-Bong as they dance around each other in a 'I know you know I know you know' game before the conflict is resolved in a spectacular and explosive ending.

The film is unexpectedly violent for a Jackie Chan film of that era but the violence is in character and in keeping with the plots and themes of the movie. It never feels gratuitous or out of place and there certainly is no particular emphasis on being gruesome. The violence is of that level of realism that shows it clearly without the blood and guts.

The action is just brilliant. There is a scene on the boat that makes me shudder every time I watch it even though one can clearly see the pipes are flexible. The explosion at the end builds tension and suspense very well and very dramatic but somehow, predictable. Perhaps the very best action sequence is the one on the scaffolding in the movie theater.

All in all this is a very satisfying movie to watch. And comes highly recommended from me ... as well as being a 'must see' for any serious Jackie fan.


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