Jackie Chan's return to Hong Kong cinema, after a number of years spent working within the Hollywood system (and with its restrictive safety provisions), also marks an attempt to bring some added gravitas to the Chan screen persona; Benny Chan's slick action thriller aims to add some emotional solidity to the usual Hong Kong mix of fast and furious fight action, laughs, and crazy stunts — with Jackie Chan now taking the weighty role of a grizzled police veteran, Chan Kwok-wing, out for redemption after judging himself responsible for the bloody massacre of his squad while attempting to trap a gang of bank robbers. The opening set piece sees the ageing superstar in the more familiar role of happy-go-lucky, have-a-go maverick cop, who manages to thwart a bomber holding a member of the public hostage during a bank heist, using his usual unconventional methods. Wing is Hong Kong's star cop; a man who has never lost a case and is universally respected by his colleagues and all of the men who serve under him. His confident persona, at this stage, is more in line with the Jackie Chan of twenty-years ago; the one who appeared in the successful "Police Story" films of that period. Obviously the title of this movie is meant to gear the audience to expect a film in that same spirit, but no sooner has the familiar Chan persona been established than the plot works to break it down completely, stripping away every last vestige of his character Wing's dignity, before rebuilding Jackie Chan's brand new, tough veteran character. No longer cocky, no longer super-confident, Chan is reborn as a sensitive elder statesman of martial arts; now rather stockier than he was in years of old, but still possessing more fighting dexterity than most men half his age!
Wing's troubles begin after the Bank of Asia is targeted by an unusual group of young bank robbers who dress stylishly, have trendy haircuts, and wear colourful masks. They turn out to be the children of a group of wealthy industrialists. Rich but bored, the gang is led by an embittered adrenaline junkie called Jo Kwan (played by Daniel Wu) who has a grudge against police officers (later, we learn that he has been abused since he was a small child by his policeman father, thus accounting for his psychosis and a deep hatred of the police!). The film attempts a piece of light-hearted social commentary (which, thankfully, never gets too overpowering or self-regarding) by portraying all the members of the gang as video game-playing, extreme sports-obsessed psychos who can only relate to the world by means of treating everything as a game — including their bank heists! With that in mind, when Wing (with his usual confidence) is quoted on the News as saying he will easily catch the gang in less than three hours, Jo accepts the challenge. Wing's squad is led into a trap, unaware that the twisted gang treat killing cops as part of a real-life video game, issuing points to each-other determined by the rank of the officer killed! Wing is forced to play for the lives of his men, but is outclassed in every game he is forced to play: all of his men die! — and, as the only survivor, Wing can only blame himself for the catastrophe! Spurned by his colleagues and withdrawing from his adoring girlfriend (Charlie Young), Wing turns to drink and becomes a pathetic alcoholic, tottering about the neon streets of Hong Kong, useless to himself and everyone else. He even gets mugged and gets his wallet pinched!
Chan gets a chance to show off his acting chops during what is really half-an-hour of back-story intended mainly to create an emotional connection with the audience before we get to the action stuff. It's all very John Woo, of course — but it isn't long before the film reverts to the more familiar territory of the classic, slick, Hong Kong action flick. Wing is picked up off of the street and nursed back to health by a rookie cop (Nicholas Tse) who has apparently been sent to get Wing back on his feet and back on the case: it seems the gang are still active and the young cop has taken it upon himself to get Wing back into the action in order to bring them to justice; the youngster even gets him to start communicating with his girlfriend again. His motives turn out to be much more complex — for young Frank Chan is not really a police officer, and neither is he the son of one of the members of Wing's ex-squad, as he at first claims. His real motives for bringing Wing back into action are not revealed until the final scene of the film, where yet more emotion-based back-story adds another level to Frank's character. This is a film where the action is very much led by character, and although things often get horrendously sentimental, it does induce a great deal of goodwill with its light-hearted, self-aware approach. Wing is finally persuaded to sober up and get himself together when he is told that the criminals have turned the ambush on his squad into a sick online video game!
Wing and Frank get back to work after Wing gets his act together, but both immediately fall foul of a new cop who has been assigned the case, who still blames Wing for the death of his men. The two become rivals in the case as the film now unleashes its main action set-pieces, the most memorable one being a stupefying bus chase through the streets of Hong Kong. There is also an unbelievable sequence in which Chan and Tse ab-sail down the side of a skyscraper using a bike and a pair of handcuffs! The difference between Hong Kong and Hollywood action films is apparent in the execution of these sequences: there are no computer generated effects and the actors are involved in all of the main stunts, which often look near impossible! Benny Chan keeps the action flowing during the central section of the movie and there is a fair amount of suspense when the criminals target Wing's girlfriend and leave her attached to a bomb in police headquarters! There is also a witty comedy sequence when Chan and Tse end up being held in police cells and all of their colleagues turn a blind eye to their poor efforts at staging an escape. The film is slick and stylish and has a certain comic book appeal, but the added character depth makes it much more captivating than the average action flick. The film's theme of crime as a game is emphasised by the final set-piece, which takes place in a convention centre where a Lego exhibition is being staged!
The two disc-special edition offers about two hours of extras on disc two, including behind-the-scenes sequences, interviews with the stars and a special interview with director Benny Chan. The film is presented in an excellent widescreen anamorphic transfer on disc one, with the choice of the original Cantonese 5.1 soundtrack (with DTS option) or an English 5.1 dub track.