Police Story III: Supercop [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - 88 Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (24th January 2024).
The Film

In spite of near-singlehandedly taking down a major Hong Kong drug ring at the end of Police Story 2, Hong Kong police officer Ka Kui (Rush Hour's Jackie Chan) is back on street patrol. Things are looking up in his personal life with him having mended his relationship with fiancee May (In the Mood for Love's Maggie Cheung), but his uncle Biu (Project A 2's Bill Tung) would like to see his nephew's "super cop" abilities recognized and conspires with his superior Inspector Chen (Hard Boiled's Philip Chan) to manipulate Ka Kui into accepting a mission with Interpol to take down the operation of drug lord Khun Chaibat (The Killer's Kenneth Tsang) but they have no idea where he is hiding. When Intelligence discovers that Chaibat has hired mercenaries to spring his second-in-command Brother Pau (The Iceman Cometh's Yuen Wah) from a Chinese labor camp, Ka Kui liaises with Chinese Interpol officer Yang (Royal Warriors' Michelle Yeoh) who provides him with a false identity.

Ka Kui slips in with the mercenaries amid the chaos of the jail break and becomes the only survivor who earns Pau's trust by helping him escape and then hiding him in his false identity's home town where Yang poses as his sister and Uncle Biu as his mother. When guards from the camp recognize Ka Kui as the man who sprung Pau, Yang intervenes and contrives the death of a security officer to get herself recruited alongside Ka Kui by Pau who takes them both to Hong Kong where they endure tests of their loyalty before being inducted into Chaibat's "family" including Yang being used as a literal human shield when Chaibat explosively eliminates all of his competition for the Golden Triangle drug crop of a corrupt Thai general (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin's Lo Lieh). Chaibat next takes them to Kuala Lumpur where his wife Ching (To Live's Josephine Koo) who is facing the death penalty and is using her sole access to a Swiss bank account to get her estranged husband to spring her. Unfortunately, May is also there as a tour guide and may expose Ka Kui's true identity when she assumes the worst about the closeness between her fiance and Yang.

The third installment in the Police Story series, Police Story 3: Supercop marks a new direction in Chan's career with a move towards attracting an international audience with higher production values, more expansive locations, even larger scale action sequences, and the move from Chan as action hero to "super" hero. The film made a splash upon release in Hong Kong in 1992 and it would make one stateside in 1996 when Miramax picked it up to compete with New Line Cinema's surprise box office success with a theatrical relesae of Rumble in the Bronx and their planned follow-up with First Strike which was actually the fourth Police Story film although significantly different redubbed and rescored it and further tarted it up with Dolby Digital sound and a compilation soundtrack featuring Warren G, Devo, Tupac Shakur, and Tom Jones (his cover of "Kung Fu Fighting") for theatrical release through their Dimension Films label. The plotting is threadbare, stringing action set pieces together, although this one more so than the earlier films in the series and Jackie Chan films in general does let the audience do some of the work in ferreting out the motives of the characters; that is, apart from poor Cheung in what is her most thankless outing as Chan's love interest (this would be her last film with Chan and she would be better-known internationally by the time of the film's US release as Irma Vep). Yeoh is on equal footing with Chan both character- and action-wise in a series of escalating set pieces that culminate in Chan doing some deadly variations on Harold Lloyd/Buster Keaton-esque stunts atop a train and Yeoh landing a motorcycle atop said train. Chan made nine films in between Supercop and his Hollywood vehicle Rush Hour, but the three between the US release of the film and Rush Hour the aformentioned First Strike, the New Line theatrically-distributed Mr. Nice Guy, and the Columbia Pictures direct-to-video-distributed Who am I? (along with Dimension's recut, rescored, and redubbed follow-up of the 1991 film Operation Condor) - are indicative of the direction of Chan's American vehicles, while Yeoh would reprise her character in the quasi-sequel Project S alternately titled Mega Cop and then Supercop 2 for Dimension's recut, rescored, and redubbed direct-to-video release).
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Video

Given scant release in Chinese-American theaters in its original Hong Kong and export versions circa 1993 and direct-to-video in its export version in the UK in 1994, Supercop had its aforementioned Dimension Films/Miramax cut theatrically released in 1996 followed by a 1997 panned-and-scanned VHS edition and a widescreen Criterion Collection laserdisc (which featured the 5.1 redub and the Cantonese track fitted to the shorter version with closed captions giving the option of watching the film in a "dubtitled" version). The same non-anamorphic widescreen master turned up on DVD in 1998 while the Hong Kong cut was only available in similarly less-than-optimal non-anamorphic form until IVL's 2012 Hong Kong DVD. The US cut got an anamorphic upgrade as part of Dragon Dynasty's two-disc "ultimate" edition which, unlike some others in the Dragon Dynasty series, did not restore the longer cut or the Cantonese audio. The film's Blu-ray history has been similarly messy with the 2009 Hong Kong Blu-ray being an upscale of the IVL master while Echo Bridge's stateside 2011 Blu-ray was an actual HD master but of the Dimension cut and cropped to 1.78:1 (followed by two reissues, one replacing the stereo track with lossless 5.1 audio and the other with the correct aspect ratio). A 4K-mastered restoration debuted on Blu-ray in Japan from Paramount in 2018 followed by a new Hong Kong edition the following year.

The film made its actual UltraHD bow in the U.K. in 2022 courtesy of Eureka separately and as part of the The Police Story Trilogy set and while 88 Films' 2160p24 HEVC 2.40:1 widescreen 4K UltraHD and 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.40:1 widescreen Blu-ray discs come from the same Fortune Star masters, there are some minor differences. Framing differs with the UK master at 2.36:1 versus the 2.40:1 U.S. which is minor and it is difficult to determine which one is stretched and which is squeezed, especially with the prevalence of wide angle photography and the distortion of the older Technovision anamorphic lenses used with their rapid falloff in sharpness at the edges of the frame (which is also more apparent here than in earlier transfers). Grading is similar with the U.S. perhaps a shade brighter. Gone is the overall yellow tinge of the Dimension HD masters which had once been the only way to see the film on Blu-ray. Both discs feature DolbyVision HDR which brings out some depth and shadow detail in the location shooting as well as more gradations in the jungle greenery as well as the sky which figure prominently in the climax. 88 Films' UHD and Blu-ray also include the Dimension Films U.S. version and, like the U.K. release, it too appears to be Fortune Star's recreation using the 4K master for the bulk of the presentation while the Garson Yu title sequence looks a tad soft with the sliding credits fuzzy in motion. Unlike the U.K. release, 88 Films has restored the Dimension Films logo while Eureka featured Fortune Star's logo at the start.
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Audio

Audio options for the Hong Kong cut include the preferred original Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track this was the first Jackie Chan film to be shot with sync-sound as well as a 2.0 stereo remix prepared for the home video releases with original unaltered sound effects, and a brand new Dolby Atmos track presumably built up from IVL's DVD-era 5.1 remix which has some added sound effects. The Atmos track is no more gimmicky than most of the better Hong Kong remixes but is hardly state of the art (dialogue levels can be lower in some scenes but always clear). The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 export mono mix sounds fine and the vocal performances are generally superior to the those of the Dimension redub (although the export dub lacks the iconic corny reading of "What we need is a supercop!"). The optional English and English SDH tracks both translate the Cantonese track.

Whereas Eureka's Dimension cut featured lossy audio options, 88 Films' edition features the rescored, redubbed English 5.1 in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio including the real voices of Chan, Yeoh, and Cheung as well as a more rousing foley track as well as the Criterion Cantonese composite track in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. The Dimension version features English SDH subtitles for the English dub as well as English and English SDH subtitles for the Cantonese track.
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Extras

While Frank Djeng recorded a commentary for the U.K. release with F. J. DeSanto, 88 Films' edition features a new audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) in which he that the film marks the transition from Chan as his Ka Kui character to "just Jackie" with First Strike breaking continuity with the first three films his increasingly Bond-ian persona and the broader, increasingly cartoonish bent to appeal to international audiences. He also reveals that Stanley Tong was put in the director's chair after concerns about Chan running over-schedule and over-budget on his last two films, and that Tong recommended Yeoh to Chan. He also discusses the film as Yeoh's comeback film after her divorce from producer Dickson Poon, as well as the film's surprisingly featuring Chan's character in a more mature relationship with Cheung than in the earlier films (including kissing which the other films shied away from given how rabid Chan's female fans are in their dislike of his love interests). Djeng refutes the claim that it is the first sync-sound Hong Kong picture, noting that it was the practice in the fifties and sixties before dubbing for export and that both Sammo Hung and Wong Kar Wai were also starting to shoot with sync-sound concurrently. Djeng notes that audiences were indeed shocked to hear Chan's real voice when the film was released Chan having been dubbed by a regular voice artist throughout the eighties and the unease with Hong Kong audiences about the film's depiction of Mainland China five years before the handover. He also provides background on Hong Kong film regulars like Philip Chan who was an actual cop and Western performers like former American John Wakefield (Man Wanted) who spoke fluent Cantonese because he arrived there as a Mormon missionary.

The 4K disc also includes the Hong Kong theatrical trailer (4:05), the English export trailer (2:10), the U.S. theatrical teaser (1:39), the U.S. theatrical trailer (1:38), seven U.S. TV spots (2:49), a U.S. video screener promo (1:37), a Japanese teaser (0:41), as well as the Guy Laroche 1984 Commercial with Jackie Chan & Michelle Yeoh (0:33).
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All of the those extras are included on the Blu-ray along with "Dancing with Death" (23:12), an interview with actress Yeoh from 2009 in which she discusses studying dancing in London, suffering an injury and pursuing acting instead, and how appearing in a television commercial in Malaysia with Chan lead to a film contract. She glosses over her marriage and absence from the screen but recalls working with Chan and Tong on the film and her multiple injuries on the set of the film (noting that Chan was reticent about letting her continue shooting after one accident but that Tong knew her limits better than he).

In "The Stuntmaster General" (19:33), director Tong speaks warmly of his working relationship with Chan who had his input into the shoot but held back when he realized how well-planned Tong was with his heavy use of storyboards and how Tong soon realized the he could seek Chan's input without fearing that the actor would take over. A 2004 interview with director Stanley Tong (17:16) is also included with more anecdotes about the film.

"The Fall Guy" (21:45) is an interview with Chan's bodyguard and co-star Ken Lo(Legacy of Rage) who recalls meeting Chan when he was a club bouncer, drinking with Chan's stunt team, and being recommended by them to Chan to join the team. He discusses Chan and the team as a big family and the moment that Chan told him that he was no longer his bodyguard but part of the team, and then recommending that he sign onto an agent as an actor while still doing stuntwork when suited to the part.

A lengthy reel of outtakes (51:33) is scored entirely with soundtrack cues and covers the entire shoot with a fun look at Chan training with the Chinese police officers, the drug compound shoot, and some extended looks at some of the injuries beyond what was seen in the end credits montage of the film.
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Overall

While we recommend you do see them, you don't need to see the first two Police Story films to enjoy Supercop as Jackie Chan's transitional film from martial arts cop to Bond-ian super hero.

 


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