Alongside Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan is perhaps the best-known Asian film star, and his Police Story films are his best known within Asia (although I’d wager maybe Rush Hour has the pip on them in the West). Still, anyone with even a passing interest in Hong Kong action cinema reaches the Police Story films quickly on that journey and with good reason: The films rock.
No surprise, then, that the franchise is no stranger to boutique Blu-ray labels — with both Eureka (Region B) and Criterion (Region A) releasing 2K-restored double-packs of Police Story and Police Story 2 a few years back. Both editions contained a bevy of extras, so it seemed the book was closed on further releases.
That’s not the case for Eureka, which went for a worldwide first to debut Police Story, Police Story 2 and Police Story 3 in 4K resolution and on a 4K Ultra HD set. (This is also Eureka’s first 4K UHD release.) This news made Hong Kong action fans the world over sit up and take notice (because UHD discs are, of course, region-free). Would we see a definitive release of the Police Story trilogy and, indeed, one from outside Hong Kong? Let’s find out.
Perhaps the greatest action film of all time — and certainly the culmination of Chan’s storied career, where the lowlights often eclipse most others’ highlights — Police Story combines Chan’s signature humour and action into a relentlessly entertaining film. It’s full of gasp-aloud moments at Chan’s stuntwork, from fights to riding through glass on a motorcycle and sliding down a string of lights from the top of a shopping mall. (I’ve been to that mall in Hong Kong. It is a long way down. Incredible.) No wonder this film meant Chan could not secure film insurance in Hong Kong moving forward.
Does the film look better with its 4K glow-up? That’s a resounding, emphatic “yes.” The upgrade is literally breathtaking, as I gasped when firing up the film to find it so sharp and clean. Imagine you were on the set of Police Story to watch the filming. That’s the level of quality offered by the UHD release — truly stunning clarity. This fantastic effort from Eureka renders the already astounding stuntwork even more spectacular. The sound is just as good, with a restored 5.1 DTS-HD MA track.
It’s a real pleasure when restorations and upgrades breathe new life into already-great films. This is nothing less than the definitive version of Police Story, and the extras are generous as well. They include 1080p presentations of the film’s export cut, as well as an English-language dub of the Hong Kong theatrical version. None other than Hong Kong action expert Frank Djeng (along with F.J. DeSanto) delivers another winning audio commentary for the Hong Kong theatrical version — new to this 4K set. There’s an additional audio commentary, too, as well as two English-audio tracks (even as I cannot see the appeal of those) and updated English subtitles. While it’s unclear whether these are the same updated subtitles from previous releases or a newly commissioned set, it’s great to have contemporary translations for such classic work. There are also archival interviews and footage. All in all, a fantastic release of a fantastic film.
Police Story 2
So, how do you follow up one of the best action films of all time? Simply make another of the best action films of all time. Chan returns to the director’s chair and gives you more of the crazy stunts you want, with his character demoted after the first film’s events and the same gang returning to make his life more difficult. There are also a lot more explosions here.
Thankfully, Eureka’s crystal-clear UHD transfer ensures you can see every bead of sweat and painful injury in perfect detail — prompting a reappreciation of the lengths Chan and company went to provide entertainment.
This 4K version is the extended cut of the film (meaning two hours of goodness), available in 5.1 DTS-HD MA (with your choice of a Cantonese or English dub). There are also 1080p presentations of the original Hong Kong cut and the alternative export version (unique to this release). Goodies are largely the same as Police Story —archival extras, outtakes, two sets of audio commentaries for the extended version (including another great one from Djeng and DeSanto). It’s more Police Story, and it looks and sounds the best it ever has. What more could you want?
Police Story 3: Supercop
Released four years after Police Story 2, Police Story 3: Supercop attempted to revitalise the series with Michelle Yeoh, the only co-star that could match Chan in action chops. Yeoh has had a banner year with Everything Everywhere All At Once finally breaking her into the Hollywood mainstream. But she was showing everyone how it was done way back in 1992.
This time, Chan also brings in director Stanley Tong for a successful freshening of the action. I find this superior to Police Story 2, more of a fresh, proper sequel than simply more of the first (which is admittedly not a bad thing). So, yes, this makes Police Story 3 one of the best action films of all time, too, culminating in an action bonanza in which it’s sublime to watch Chan and Yeoh do their things.
It’s even better in 4K UHD. Like the other two films, it looks and sounds fantastic. Thanks to Eureka, the cut here is the original Hong Kong version. But there’s also a 1080p version of the longer U.S. alternative version. Again, there are newly translated English subtitles, as well as the English-dub track, and a commentary from Djeng and DeSanto (as well as additional commentary). The best curio in the extras here is the American English dub, which features Chan and Yeoh voicing their own characters, but I also dug a new featurette on Chan’s video games.
There are also a ton of archival interviews, as well as a newly commissioned one with stunt coordinator and action-film historian John Kreng. Additionally, there are a whopping 50 minutes of outtakes, which, if you know Chan’s films, are almost as good as the main event. The only thing I could have wanted that’s not here is the spinoff Supercop 2, but it’s a fair price to pay for everything else with which Eureka has stuffed this tremendous release. Eureka also has released Police Story 3: Supercop as a standalone Blu-ray with all the same extras — a smart choice catering to fans who may not own a 4K player and want to round out the collection of previously released Blu-rays.
Eureka commissioned its own artwork and sleeve so it can sit proudly alongside the thrifty Hong Kong cinema collector’s other Police Story films and match the part. Though certainly secondary to the films themselves, the physical presentation of the set is quite nice as well, with a hard case featuring new exclusive artwork, as well as the icing on the cake — a spine-bound 100-page booklet that comes with essays (published for previous Blu-ray releases) as well as production stills. It’ll look great on any shelf, particularly alongside any of Eureka’s other boxed releases. It might have been nice to have new writing on these seminal films, but it’s also good that the same great essays from James Oliver are being used and that Blu-ray owners don’t miss out on more extras.
Speaking of which: Extras on the previous Eureka Blu-rays and this 4K set are not exactly the same. I’m not sure why, but your preference on extras may dictate any frustration you feel. The only significant omissions from Eureka’s previous Blu-ray releases are the Japanese cut of Police Story and the United Kingdom cut of Police Story 2. (However, if you bought those versions previously, you still have excellently restored options.)
In all, Eureka has delivered the definitive edition of this trilogy. Until a new media format arrives, they can’t be one-upped. While there might be quibbles with mismatched extras, those who care to upgrade purely on visuals alone likely already own Eureka’s previous Blu-rays and will enjoy this set of new ones (along with Police Story 3: Supercop). Those buying the series for the first time will still enjoy a fantastic point of entry. No matter whether you’re a newbie or a scholar, Eureka has compiled three of the greatest action films from Hong Kong (or anywhere) in the best quality they’ve ever seen.