Eye For Film >> Movies >> Police Story: Lockdown (2013) Film Review
The sixth installment in the Police Story series, released nine years after its most recent predecessor and helmed by a new director (the relatively inexperienced Ding Sheng), Police Story: Lockdown is another attempt at reinventing the series which, through its focus on a grizzled older officer, also serves as something of a reflection on what has gone before. It recasts Chan as a mainland Chinese rather than Hong Kong officer, and the way that it's structured to work around the limitations he has acquired with age means it also comes across as a reflection on his remarkable career.
The action is set almost exclusively within a nightclub where Zhong goes to attend a New Year party, looking for his daughter, Miao Miao (Jing Tian), with whom he has had a fractured relationship since the death of her mother. Miao is keen to introduce him to her new boyfriend, Jiang Wu (Liu Ye), whom he instantly disapproves of. But the problem with Wu isn't just that he's older or that he associates with seedy gangster types - before long, he has our her strapped to a chair, Miao is locked in a cage along with several other hostages, the whole building turns out to be rigged with explosives, and he's on the phone to the police demanding that a jailed man be delivered to him.
Of course, even though he's 62 now (58 a the time of filming), nobody can keep Jackie Chan strapped to a chair for long. What follows is a lengthy sequence of sneaking around, acquiring information and taking out henchmen - the best new Die Hard film so far this century - which includes some great stunt work and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's not the whole of the story however, because Wu knows he has leverage, so the conflict between the two men soon becomes something more complex - and the motive behind Wu's actions is something else again.
To Western audiences, the explanatory part of the film, for all its tension, is likely to seem too long and sentimental. It's very much playing to the home audience in this regard. What makes it interesting, however, is a regard for human life that turns the usual conventions of the genre upside down. Zhong is determined to save not only himself, his daughter and the hostages but also the prisoner and, if possible, Wu himself. In the process, he must confront old demons of his own.
Ding Sheng's fast-cutting style, made still more dynamic by the nightclub lights, is used to great effect in some sequences but becomes overbearing in others. It enables stunt sequences to be split into a lot of separate bits so that Chan can show off his best moves without having to make it through too many prolonged fight sequences. The two which remain are more powerful for it, and Chan uses his greater physical vulnerability to help develop a character who is acutely aware of his own weaknesses (though never short on courage). He has grown as an actor in recent years and Ding gives him the chance to put it onscreen, which helps to balance out the film's hyperactive tendencies.
Police Story: Lockdown may not launch the franchise afresh, but it's an ambitious film that makes a distinctive contribution to the genre.Reviewed on: 20 Jul 2016