PG-13, despite having WAY MORE butt nudity. Like, it's an entire shower room full of dudes' butts and that's okay. Also, I feel like the movie feels pretty ableist at times, considering that they really teeter on making fun of a mute and deaf gentleman. Like, he ends up being this great martial arts expert, but there's running gags about how silly he sounds. It's PG-13, but not one that I would readily show my kids. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Jackie Chan
Okay, full disclosure. I thought that I had just watched the final entry in this franchise. Apparently, there are eight film. Eight. At one point, they completely reboot the series as this dark and brooding action series, still staring Jackie Chan, but as a different guy. I can't even wrap my head around this. These movies are so adorable and goofy. There's safely a five minute fart joke with a callback to that fart joke. How can this series decide to tonally shift genre so hard. It's a really weird choice. Regardless, I will admit that I once again had fun with this movie.
Gone is the attitude of cheap filmmaking. I commented that in the first Police Story, the movie kind of felt like it was made by a bunch of college bros who were really good at filming stunts. I mean, a lot of Police Story 2 is an attempt to capitalize on a movie that was probably pretty successful, considering that the film really goes out of its way to tie into the first movie. It's odd. There's a whole second plot here. It's not like there were a ton of unresolved issues going on with the first movie that a sequel would need to correct for giant plotholes left open. Why doesn't the movie just start with the bombing plot and make the movie a cleaner hour-and-a-half. For some reason, Police Story 2 stresses that Mr. Chu is still a major person in Chan's life. I don't know why. It seems like he got stomped pretty hard in the first movie. And then, even when bringing him back, it brings him back in the weirdest way possible.
The first film ends with Chan completely disregarding police protocol and beating the living daylights out of his suspect. The final victorious shot is Chan kicking this old man through a glass display, as if that would solve the problem of...things. But the second movie says that Chu was arrested and sentenced, but freed for health reasons. We could just go that he violated a suspect's rights and that's why he's free? I mean, that seems to be the straight line from action to consequence. I mean, part of me gets why the film didn't go that way. It would make Chan pretty unlikable, that his thirst for vengeance got in the way of making a conviction. But the entire second movie is Chan desperately trying to follow the rules, but constantly getting trapped for screwing up. It's one of the central themes of the film is the attempt to do things the right way, only to get stymied and caught at the most inopportune moments. It's just so bizarre. This is also coupled with the notion that Chan is fired in the first act of the film from the police force. I mean, the movie is called Police Story 2, but I could see Chan having to take the law into his own hands.
Instead, the movie decides to fire him and immediately rehire him. Part of this is an attempt to form a wedge between Chan and May. Again, May is a saint in these movies. I will say that the sequel does a better job of making Chan more sympathetic to the struggles that he has with May. Often, the things that happen to Chan and May aren't directly Chan's fault in the second film, unlike the first film. But I do appreciate the attempt to grow the character of May from the background persona that she had in the first movie into something that actually kind of matters. I mean, when you give a character a mom, I feel like your character might have more than one layer. (I'm being sarcastic...kind of.) And it is in writing this that I become aware that the only reason that May actually has any characterization in this movie is that she can get kidnapped. It's a bummer reason, but at least it kind of gives Chan some actual motivation for this character.
What is pretty weak in this movie is the lack of characterization for the villains of the film. The first film had Mr. Chu, this guy who took it upon himself from the first act of the film to make Chan's life miserable. Even though the two of them didn't have a previous connection to each other, by the end of the film there was a real animosity. Chu became this archvillain and someone who needed to go down for his nefarious acts. But the second film really stresses that the bombers are anonymous. There's a real problem about creating a mystery like that. When we have characters who are in the background of the movie, there's no way to 1) possibly guess who they are and 2) discover any real motivation for them. While Chu became tied to the life of the protagonist, it seems like Chan and the bombers are almost unaware of each other until the final act of the film. There's nothing personal about the fight between the protagonist and the antagonist outside of the fact that they use May as a bargaining chip. And yet, the entire story of Chan is linked to the concept that his professional life intrudes on his personal life. But, you know, with a lot of punching and kicking.
I enjoy these movies. I'm really really really really tempted to get the laserdisc of Supercop and continue this going. It would make an amazing addition to my collection, despite the fact that I would have to explain this addition to my wife. After all, who really needs Laserdiscs anymore?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.