Crime Story (1993) / Action-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and a sex scene
Running Time: 103 min.

Cast: Jackie Chan, Kent Cheng, Fat Chung, Law Hang Kang, Christine Ng
Kirk Wong, Jackie Chan
Screenplay: Teddy Chan, Chi-Sung Cheung, Lai Ling Cheung, Man Keung Chan, Tin Nam Chun
Review published June 11, 2003

You know something is wrong when 45 minutes into a Jackie Chan (City Hunter, Operation Condor) flick he's done nothing in terms of action save fire off a pistol about two dozen times. No kicking, no punching, no back-flips, no acrobatics at all. Do they really think we watch Jackie to see his acting chops? Well, I grant you he has some comedic flair as well, but Crime Story doesn't play anything for laughs. I'm not saying that Jackie should be pigeonholed into nothing but kung fu films or slapstick comedy, but come on! If I want to see bloody gunplay and explosions galore I'll pop in a Stallone flick or Arnie or someone else who can't jump more than two inches off the ground. Handcuffing Jackie Chan into standard action fare is like having Picasso painting with a paint-by-numbers kit. I say, let the man do what he does best: kick some ass.

Supposedly this is based on actual events, but I'm not familiar enough with the background story to vouch for sure. Suffice it to say, whatever happened in reality is probably only a fraction of the violence and carnage viewed on-screen. Jackie plays a police inspector prone to losing his cool from time to time, and is especially under stress after having been involved in a bloody shoot-out with some local Hong Kong baddies. He is given the assignment of looking after a wealthy businessman who fears that he may be the target of a kidnapping, having once been kidnapped before for ransom. Sure enough, his fears prove correct. The man's wife wants to pay the millions in ransom money the captors are asking, but Jackie doesn't trust their motives.

Apparently the John Woo influence was strong in Hong Kong in the early 90s as the level of violence found in Crime Story is too similar to Hard Boiled to dismiss outright. Showers of bullets and bloodshed fill up much of the running time, only to find respite when there is the occasional car crash or explosion. The only real moments of interest comes when Jackie Chan does his usual thing of exciting acrobatic fighting, but half of the movie goes by before the first instance that itís too little and too late. Kirk Wong directs with style, yet doesnít have the tongue-in-cheek humor of his film The Big Hit or the quality of script he had with Organized Crime and Triad Bureau. Jackie sleepwalks for most of the film trying to play a serious and gritty role ineffectively. Crime Story is strictly for Jackieís staunchest fans and those who enjoy hard-boiled Hong Kong action of the most humorless variety.

Qwipster's rating:

©2003 Vince Leo