Connoisseurs of mayhem are reminded that the third in the Charles' series of occasional Hong Kong Movie Mondays is upon us, with the theater showing Jackie Chan's "Police Story 2" at 7 p.m.
The two previous exhibitees, Ringo Lam ("Full Contact") and John Woo ("A Better Tomorrow"), have essentially been gun guys. Lots of bang bang. Endless bang bang, in fact. Nothing but bang bang. But Chan is a chop-chop guy.
In fact, he's probably cinema's pre-eminent martial artist, and the fights he designs are extraordinary whirligigs of brilliantly choreographed action and thrilling stunts. He's also a bit of a clown: His movies all play light, and the fights flirt with slapstick as they spin out of control.
Where Woo is an incurable pessimist (in his last Hong Kong film, the clinically insane "Hard Boiled," he killed off hundreds of doctors, nurses and patients), Chan is a optimist. The films are infused with loopy humor; nobody dies spitting blood. Nobody dies, period, except the odd stunt person.
The plot isn't much: Chan, as Sergeant Ku-Kai, is perpetually in trouble with bureaucrats who despise his heroic ways and want a team player. He's demoted to traffic, until a mob of nasty young men begins extorting millions from corporations by planting bombs. He's assigned to the case and, by not very convincing ways, manages to penetrate the ring while avoiding the irritation of the girlfriend (Maggie Cheung) he just can't find time for.
Incredible fights and stunts. In one, a complete throwaway, he runs across the street but gets hit by a car, then gets up and continues across the street. Now, this isn't done with illusions or doubles or special effects or anything: This is the star and director of the movie stepping in front of a van traveling 15 mph and getting knocked 10 feet onto his butt. Imagine, say, Tom Cruise doing that? "Uh, Tom, now in this scene, we're really lTC going to smack you with a moving car and . . . Tom? Tom?"
Under the credits, Chan runs outtakes of rehearsals or stunts that didn't quite work, and you see how dangerous a game Chan and his crew play. These boys and girls get banged up big time. They aren't making movies, they're surviving them.
"Police Story 2"
Starring Jackie Chan
Directed by Jackie Chan
Released by Golden Harvest