Jackie Chan’s back in what was, at the time, his biggest and most jaw-droppingly spectacular action comedy – it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t seen the first two, as aside from the return of previous characters the plot is just a convenient wraparound for all that amazing action. By the time the UK got the fourth one, any thought that potential audiences would be long-term fans of the first three were low enough that the title was changed from Police Story 4: First Strike to the more marquee friendly Jackie Chan’s First Strike. I didn’t even realise that latter film was a sequel to the other three until I did my homework. I still haven’t seen the original HK cut of First Strike, so all I’ve experienced is a choppy, awkward and silly dubbed version – therefore for me the series peaked with Part III, which boasts action so good it still stands up over twenty years later.
The plot involves Chan’s supercop (seriously, it’s not just a case of the film’s title and promotion commenting on our hero’s super-ness, the characters even refer to him as a supercop) going undercover, with the help of Michelle Yeoh’s bad-ass partner, to infiltrate a drug cartel – bog standard stuff admittedly, though there’s some farce thrown in as Jackie ends up bring his new gangster friends back home to visit his ‘family’ in order to keep his cover going. His boss shows up in drag pretending to be his mum. Yet despite the film’s general comedic tone, where even the action has a gleefully knockabout approach, the drug element is played admirably straight – when the film was re-edited and dubbed for US consumption (complete with Warren G. and Adina Howard on the soundtrack!), references to drug mules with condoms of narcotics in their stomachs, as well as a bit where a woman is persuaded to inject herself with heroin were cut out, which I suppose made for a more consistent tone, but one that lacked the edge of the original version. Still, despite these dark moments, as well as the odd bit of ruthless lackey dispatching from some pretty threatening bad guys, Supercop is mostly a joy – the fight scenes are eye-poppingly fast and hilariously elaborate, and Chan and director Stanley Tong go one further, throwing in some seriously amazing pyrotechnics, aerial stuntwork and dangerous car chases – one bit where Michelle Yeoh is hanging off the side of a moving van is amazing!
Bizarrely, the music score finds the time to fit in a couple of cues from Danny Elfman’s Batman score during the helicopter section of its action-packed finale – seriously, the bit from when the Caped Crusader shrouds Vicki Vale in his cape when he takes her camera and the final few seconds from the opening title theme just show up out of nowhere! Weird! So yeah, it’s a hit, apart from one unforgivably stupid moment of weak scripting – the bit when Ka Kui’s girlfriend reveals our hero’s true identity in a crowded lift is lazy writing at its mind-bogglingly insulting. Absolute crap. Overall though, this is a total joy of a film. This is real action. Fuck CGI, I say. But you all knew that. Deep down, you all knew that.