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DVD Review: Crime Story

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When you think of a Jackie Chan film, you probably get images of comedic martial arts antics and simplistic plots. Crime Story is distinctly different. This is a new look Jackie Chan, and while the story is still rather straightforward, it is not the sort of thing you will find in the majority of Chan's catalog.

Crime Story is a true crime action/thriller that relies more on gun fights than martial arts, and more brooding than comedy. It is a change of pace that does not completely work, but despite the flaws, it is still a highly entertaining movie. So, if you don't have any lingering qualms over an atypical Jackie Chan performance, this could turn out to be something of a treat.

The story concerns a devious plot to kidnap a wealthy property developer with intentions to ransom him for millions of dollars. Jackie plays Police Detective Chan, the officer assigned to protect the man. One day, after defusing a worker revolt at the construction site, the two separate, and in a kidnapping thriller, you have to know that separation is never a good idea. No sooner have they parted ways, when there is a daring abduction, in broad daylight, via car. This in turn leads to a big car chase setpiece, a segment that is quite thrilling in its execution, and in its ramifications for the rest of the film.

The rest of Crime Story follows Chan as he attempts to track down the victim, and unravel the mystery surrounding the abduction. There is no comedy to be found, and not much hand to hand action for the first hour. Rather than the martial arts, we get a number of gun fights in addition to the car chase. Also, instead of the comedic Chan, we get a Jackie whose character is revealed, early on, to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder stemming from a brutal gunfight that he was involved in. This is a recurring motif throughout the film, which helps to drive Chan to fight the good fight. His character is clearly a good guy, a guy who feels strongly for what he does, and the repercussions of his actions weigh heavily on his shoulders.

Okay, the story is not terribly hard to follow. What is interesting about it, however, is watching what is essentially a crime procedural with Jackie Chan in the lead. His dramatic performance is not great; it is still Jackie Chan on the screen playing what seems to be the only character he knows how to play, Jackie Chan. He is a performer who never really learned how to act, yet is very entertaining in nearly everything he does, and this is no different.

One thing that makes this film work is the vigor and energy with which everyone throws themselves into the film, and especially the action. It is not like watching a Hollywood actioner where there are clear stunt doubles and such (not that they aren't used here). Watch the fights and the shootouts — these guys show no fear throwing themselves around, into walls, through glass, through whatever happens to be in the way. It brings an added level of realism to the piece.

It is interesting to note that Jackie Chan was not the first choice for the role. Originally it was intended for Jet Li, then it was going to be Tony Leung, then Jet Li again, before finally settling on Chan. It is definitely an intriguing choice for a film that has a rather dark feel to it and steps away from Jackie's bread and butter.

In the end, Crime Story features an explosive climax, a story that is compelling, and shows a different side of Chan. It is not going to be at the top of Chan's filmography, nor is it near the top of my favorite Chan flicks, but it is a good movie with some great setpieces and new look at Jackie.

Audio/Video. Dragon Dynasty has delivered a nice looking disk which is probably the best presentation it has had since it's theatrical release back in 1993. The image is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, and is nice and clean with no defects. The audio is presented in English and Cantonese 5.1 tracks, as well as the original Cantonese mono track. The audio is also a good presentation. This is definitely a disk to recommend.

Extras. There is a nice complement of extras packed on the disk.

  • Commentary. The track features director Kirk Wong and HK cinema expert Bey Logan. This is a good track with plenty of background information about the characters, locations, and other trivia.
  • Interview: Kirk Wong. This interview runs for 30 minutes and covers much of the production of the film.
  • Interview: Teddy Chan. Chan was the screenwriter, and this covers the writing process and how the film was developed. It runs for 12 minutes.
  • Deleted Scenes. Three deleted scenes are included, totaling 5.5 minutes. None of them would have added much, though it is nice to have them included.
  • Trailers. Both the original HK trailer, as well as the US promo trailer are included.

Bottom line. This is a good movie, not great by any stretch, but it is definitely a good addition to your Chan collection. There is a distinctly different feel to it, and the action is still explosive.

Recommended.

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