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Film / Police Story

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Police Story is a landmark 1985 Hong Kong action comedy directed by and starring Jackie Chan. It introduced the Royal Hong Kong Police Force officer Ka-kui "Kevin" Chan, who Jackie used as his character in the Police Story series until First Strike in 1996, before the series was rebooted with a Darker and Edgier take in 2004. Out of all the films in his long career, Chan has declared it his favorite film that he ever helmed.

The story involves Chan's involvement in a C.I.D. sting op on drug lord Chu Tao, which goes spectacularly awry, and leads to a chase that ends up with Chan pursuing, boarding, and stopping a bus Chu and his thugs have hijacked. Chu is arrested, but there isn't enough hard evidence to lock him up, so Chan's higher ups devise a plan use Chu's secretary Selina (Brigitte Lin) as a prosecution witness and as bait for Chu to send his hitmen. Chan is sent to guard her on escort duty, and to covertly record her confession.


This doesn't go exactly as planned, and much comedy ensues, partly involving Chan's bickering with his ill-tempered girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung), eventually leading to Selina skedaddling on the morning of Chu's trial. With no witness, and some rather dubious taped "evidence", Chan is defeated woefully by Chu's conniving lawyer Cheung, and Chu goes free.

Unfettered, Chan is determined bring down Chu, but in attempting to track down Selina, who has become too much of a risk for Chu's operation anyway, he falls into a trap set by Chu's gang to frame him for the murder of Inspector Man, a paid-off cop who was in on the scheme from the start. Chan is able to allow Selina to escape, but is caught and drugged by Chu's nephew Danny and his thugs. Now a wanted man, Chan must catch Chu, evidence and all, before his fellow officers catch him first. Then there's a fight in a shopping mall...


This film provides the following tropes:

  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Kevin thinks May's left, but Selina doesn't tell him she's still there, and rattles off about his thoughts on May, culminating with a bluffed apology over the phone from May. Kevin deservingly gets a final cake in the face from May when he finally realizes she's still in the room.
  • Big Bad: Chu Tao, the drug kingpin whom Chan and the rest of the police spend the entire movie trying to take down.
    • Ex-Big Bad: Chu Tao spends the entirety of the sequel on his deathbed. It takes a while for Chan to realise that he is not responsible for kidnapping his girlfriend or the multiple bombings around the city.
  • Cactus Cushion: Kevin Chan is guarding Selina, who's an important witness for a trial. Noticing a small potted cactus in Kevin's house, Selina picks it up and makes some suggestive comments. Embarrassed, Kevin grabs the cactus and sets it down on a chair—then forgets and sits down on that same chair himself. To literally add insult to injury, the entire exchange gets recorded, and the audio gets played back at the trial, where lack of context makes it sound much dirtier than it actually is.
  • Car Meets House: Chu and his business associates escape the roadblock set up for them by literally driving straight through the shantytown on the hill itself. Chan also gives chase in car, so naturally, this happens, in one of the film's most impressive stunt sequences.
  • Chekhov's Gag: After finding out the assassin who attacked her at her house was only one of Kevin's buddies, Selina approaches Kevin alluringly and makes all manner comments involving a cactus, spilled orange juice, and Kevin's bed that could be taken as sexual innuendos. The conversation is then played on loudspeakers to an entire courtroom on the day of Chu's trial. Selina recorded over the confession she gave about Chu's businesses.
  • Clear My Name: Kevin has to find Selina as a witness and get evidence on Chu to clear his frame-up on the murder of Sergeant Mau by Danny before his teammates catch him first. Luckily, the superintendent gives him a head start.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Unsurprising since it's a Chan film. The tried and true K.O. method in the final battle is smashing somebody into something sharp like a pane of glass.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Selina can't fight like Kevin can, but is still able to act under pressure, and saves Kevin from being killed by Danny's thugs during the final fight.
  • Determinator: Kevin Chan. In his attempts to thwart Chu, he single handedly pursues and stops a hijacked bus, takes his superintendent hostage while surrounded by his entire police precinct, takes an ungodly amount of punishment from Chu's legion of thugs, and slides down the pole of a high voltage chandelier before crashing into a small kiosk.
    • Chu's gang show an equal measure of this, Danny and his cronies taking just as much punishment from Kevin and Selina during the final fight in their attempt to steal back the evidence briefcase.
  • Dirty Cop: Inspector Man/Sergeant Mao, who was the key to the sting op in the shantytown's failure and was working for Chu all along. Done away with by Danny using Kevin's service revolver to frame him.
  • Dub Name Change: There's a lot of this since the film has been spread over multiple dubs throughout the years. Kevin Chan remained in usage until First Strike, when Jackie's real English name was used instead.
    • Chan Ka-kui: Kevin Chan (1985 dub), Jackie Chan (1998, 2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • Chu Tao: Tom Koo (1985 and 1998 dubs), Joe Chu (2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • Danny Chu: Danny Koo (1985 and 1998 dubs)
    • Salina Fong: Selina Fong (All dubs)
    • Inspector "Uncle" Chou: Inspector Wong (1985 and 1998 dubs), Inspector George (2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • Inspector Man: Sergeant Mao (1985 and 1998 dubs), Sergeant Ming (2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • Kim: Ken (2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • John Ko: John Chow (1998 dub)
    • Seh Zhai Chun: Snake-eyes (1985 and 1998 dubs), Sharky Lee (2000 and 2006 dubs)
    • Mad Wing: Jacknife (1985 and 1998 dubs), Crazy Wing (2000 dub), Psycho Wing (2006 dub)
  • Forklift Fu: How Kevin takes out Mad Wing/Jacknife while getting even with Snake-eyes for setting him up.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Chu Tao. Averted with the Superintendent, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Hit Stop: With few exceptions, slow motion is used whenever somebody gets knocked into a pane of glass.
  • The Mall: The setting for the final battle. It gets absolutely trashed.
  • Outside Ride: Chan holds onto a moving bus with an umbrella while trying to nab Chu.
  • Pie in the Face: A running gag throughout the film. In a deleted opening sequence now only seen in the longer Japanese version, Kim pranks his co-officer Frank on his birthday with a cake in the face, which Frank promises he'll follow up on Kim's birthday. Needless to say, Kim also gets one. Later in the film, a disgruntled May shoves a cake in Kevin's face after seeing him with a rather scantily clad Selina during a surprise party at Kevin's building. May storms off, the door bell rings, and Kevin gets another cake from another co-officer. After May comes back and overhears and sees Kevin's rude behavior while Selina is present, he gets a third and final cake, right after taking a shower to wash off the last two.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Superintendent Li gets the brunt of one from an angry Kevin after charging him with the murder of Inspector Man, since there's no evidence to prove otherwise. Kevin calls out his foolhardy plans that got him into the frame-up in the first place.
    Kevin: I've had enough! We're risking our lives, while he sits here thinking of himself! We're the ones who catch crooks! He just quotes procedures! Dumb ideas! I could die protecting some witness so easy! He gives an order, and we have to go risk our lives! You were promoted at our expense! Do you ever think about us?! A man is killed, it's a funeral and a full report, and that's all it means to you! If we didn't fight to make you look good, you wouldn't be sitting on your butt in here!
  • Say My Name: Chan shouts "CHU TAAAAAAAOOOOOOO!!!!" after Chu and John Ko throw May down a staircase.
    • Or "KOOOOOOOOO!!!!" in the '85 and '98 dubs. The 2000 dub changes it to a Big "NO!".
  • Soft Glass: A rather infamous subverted example. The movie is sometimes nicknamed "Glass Story", for its use of sugar glass that was twice the thickness of standard movie glass for added realism, so many of the cuts you see on Chan and his stunt team during the finale were unsimulated and it's an understatement that the stuff hurt like hell to work with.
  • Repeat Cut: The Trope Codifier. Three separate angles of Jackie's lighting fixture pole sliding stunt ended up in the final cut, and even more appear in the outtakes of the extended Japanese version, one of which shows the full cut of Chan getting back up and screaming at the camera in triumph of completing the death-defying feat.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Selina in the original Cantonese dialogue and subtitles is named "Salina" but nobody seems to take much notice of this as it's such a small difference.
    • Chu Tao is also rendered as "Chu Tu" in most subtitled versions. It really boils down to the method of romanizing Cantonese names the translations use.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack:
    • The original Hong Kong score by Michael Lai is centered around Hero Story, the theme sung by Chan during the end credits, with many action-y and comedic variants of it.
    • The alternative, fully mickey moused export version score by Kevin Bassinson has its own Leitmotif that it centers around.
  • Tied Up on the Phone: Chan gets left alone in the squad room and so has to answer several phones ringing at the same time. He gets rather confused and ends up placing the receivers on the wrong telephones, leading to the room being strung with telephone cords.

Video Example(s):


Warehouse fight

Jackie Chan uses everything he can get his hands on, such as mops, dragon heads, drywall, and of course a stepladder.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

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