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Police Story 4: First Strike

Police Story 4: First Strike
Martial Arts Action Comedy / Chinese / 1996

For the Action Movie Countdown.

Been WAYYY overdue for this one, been having technical issues, but now that we're finally sorted let's check out the last of the "classic" Police Story series.

Funerals, Caviar, Horses, Koalas, Wallabies, Underwater World "Oceanarium".

You may recall I identified a trend with Police Story 3 where the fight scenes were becoming increasing in number, but decreasing in quality. You may also recall that I was particularly critical of the plot and it's apparent lack of structure.

Both of these gripes are resolved in First Strike.

Firstly, the narrative is much MUCH stronger with a more traditional James Bond-esque story which Jackie Chan even specifically references, "I'm like James Bond without all of the gorgeous girls."

And sure enough it's still a healthy distance from aping James Bond in any serious respect, due mainly to the humor taken at Chan's expense, at one point having him strip down in public to only his koala underwear and even further until old ladies are snappy sassy pictures of him. That's about as crude as the humor gets so overall so even the jokes are a lot more tasteful.

The story didn't have any plotholes that jumped out at me, however I may have missed something during the exposition dump reveal that explains how it is that Jackie's in what appears to be Australia where everyone speaks Russian and Chinese.

That was kinda confusing. At the end I THINK I know what happened, there was a rogue offshoot of the Russian government that was smuggling decommissioned warheads and tried to sell them to Ukraine or... wait- China? Wait... I forget. It was a serviceable story, engaging enough to keep my interest, but not so engaging that I was noticing issues with it.

The real service here is the action and there are 3 main action sequences in this movie. There are bouts sprinkled here and there, I'm not even counting the apartment fight, but mainly there are 3 main big sequences.

The first is a ski resort chase where Jackie, in very light clothing, chases down goons in a snowmobile and escapes on a snowboard. There are exploding helicoptors and Jackie actually submerges bodily in freezing water, that's HARSH.

The third is an entire underwater fight sequence at Underwater World Oceanarium where Jackie and NOT LOVE INTEREST (phew...) stave off goons from stealing the MacGuffin. As can be expected they get about as creative as they could possibly get with it and when puppet sharks are swimming around with goons' legs hanging out of your mouths, I admit I start to forget about all of the real fish they have in captivity. By the end it gets as ridiculous as the characters keeping their cut thumbs in their mouths so as not to upset the sharks, with Jackie at one point trading his thumb for a goon's oxygen mask. It's very silly.

SECONDLY, and yes I hold the best for last, is the one and only straight-up fight scene in this whole movie. You may be disappointed and liable to cry foul at such a waste of Jackie's talents, but never fear, for this is probably one of his very best fights onscreen.

Dubbed "the ladder fight", we have a proptacular battle that pitches all manner of decorations and construction tools into the mix until it culminates is Jackie adopting a folding ladder and TOTALLY WRECKING FACE WITH IT. This is what I meant when I said that people who watch Supercop won't get what's so special about Jackie Chan: the guy sees a ladder... and figures out over a dozen and a half different ways he can beat people up with it. It's sick.

Not that we should disparage all of the other stunts he performs, but if Jackie Chan was a D&D character, he'd be a Monk and his first feat would be Improvised Weapon Proficiency. Guy's a fricken' maniac with this stuff and I love it.

It may be his only really real fight in the movie, but the rest of the movie is solid so it all rises close enough to peak that I feel comfortable saying that: overall, it's good stuff.

It doesn't reach the heights of Police Story, but it doesn't reach it's lows either, it's not as good as Police Story 2, but it's definitely a step above Police Story 3.

Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]