Saturday, 18 February 2017

Police Story: Lockdown (4 Stars)

"Police Story: Lockdown", known in some countries as "Police Story 2013", is sometimes called the sixth film in the Police Story film series, sometimes a reboot of the Police Story series. It's neither, whatever the infallible contributors to Wikipedia write. The only thing that's consistent from film to film is that Jackie Chan plays the lead role. The first four films (1985-1996) can be considered a series, because he plays the Hong Kong police officer Chan Ka-Kui. In the fifth film (2004) he plays Chan Kwok-Wing, and in this film (2013) he plays Zhong Wen. The last two films have "Police Story" in the title just to fool people into thinking they are continuations that they need to watch. That's silly. "Police Story: Lockdown" is a film that's worth watching in its own right.

Zhong Wen is a successful but under-appreciated cop. He does his job, risking his own life day by day, because it's the right thing to do. One evening when he's off duty his daughter invites him to see her at a night club called the Wu Bar. It's not the sort of place he would normally go to, but he hasn't seen her for five years. She introduces him to her boyfriend, Wu Jiang, the club's owner. Zhong doesn't trust him, and his instincts are correct. He's knocked unconscious, and when he wakes up he's tied to a chair. Zhong and 20 other hostages are being held prisoner. Wu's only demand is that an imprisoned murderer, Wei Xiaofu, should be delivered to the club.

As the night progresses it becomes obvious that the 21 hostages (including Zhong) aren't random strangers. They are all people important to Wu who were sent special invitations to gather them on this evening.

This is a taut psychological thriller, not as light-hearted as Jackie Chan's usual comedy romps. Zhong Wen has to fight for his life while trying to solve the mystery behind Wu's motives.

Jackie Chan carries the film, as is to be expected, but special mention needs to be made of Jing Tian, who plays his daughter Miao Miao. After "Great Wall" this is only the second film I've seen her in, but I find her performance very impressive. I look forward to seeing more of her.

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