In my defence I thought I’d seen Police Story 3: Supercop years ago but it turned out to be the spin-off movie Supercop 2 with Michelle Yeah reprising her role from the earlier film and Jackie Chan making a brief cameo. Somewhat confusingly both films have been released in some territories under the title Supercop so in an era where getting hold of HK movies usually involved replying to adverts in martial arts magazines from specialists offering VHS copies at ridiculously high prices I don’t feel too bad about my error. If anything it was great to have another film from that great period between 1982-1994 when Chan was at his peak as a performer.
Though a sequel the film also functions as a comeback for Michelle Yeoh after five years away from acting. It’s a buddy movie teaming Chan’s laidback HK police officer with his initially stern Chinese counterpart to take down a drug smuggling kingpin. The film also anticipates the impending handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule by showing the two working together despite their differences.
There’s the usual clashes you get in movies about mismatched partners, mostly involving Chan making fun of the Chinese government’s extreme training techniques for their cadets before the two begin to complement each other and become an effective partnership. The plot involves going undercover to infiltrate the network of a drug syndicate run by a jovial Nintendo loving psychopath. While the first two were quite gritty for 80s’ Jackie Chan movies Police Story 3 is much larger in scale and has the feel of a Bond movie. In fact I’m pretty sure the makers of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, Roger Spottiswoode) must have watched this at least once given Yeoh’s presence in that film and Brosnan’s Bond effectively fulfilling the Chan role as the wise-cracking partner.
As you’d expect from this era in Chan’s career the stunts are life-threatingly insane with Jackie dangling from a helicopter as it flies for miles over the city and Yeoh riding a motor bike onto a moving train. There’s a little too much gunplay which may well be a reaction to the popularity of John Woo movies at the time and Yeoh’s own contributions to the “Girls with Guns” sub-genre which made her a star. The only downside is Maggie Cheung reprising the least rewarding role of her career as Chan’s girlfriend whose presence is meant to provide comic relief but the treatment of her character through this franchise leaves much to be desired.
Yeoh and Chan (for about 5 minutes) would return for Supercop 2 a year later as would director Stanley Tong. Soon Hollywood would beckon for both of them and I reckon Yeoh has fared better in that respect with a diverse and interesting career. Jackie’s greatest achievements remain the films he made in the 80s’ and early 90s’ and Police Story 3: Supercop is one of the best of them.