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Jackie Chan's first attempts to make a name for himself with American audiences in the early 1980s were less than spectacular. He starred in The Big Brawl, both of the Cannonball Run movies, and The Protector, none of which conveyed the charisma and talent that had established him as a star in Asia with such films as Drunken Master and Snake in Eagle Shadow. About the only thing those early American films did for Chan was introduce him to a dedicated fan base who sought out his Hong Kong films, and were then able to gloat knowingly about him when he finally made a huge splash in America with Rumble in the Bronx. The success of Rumble in the Bronx made Chan a viable draw with audiences in the United States, and in an effort to make a buck, many of his films were re-packaged for release in America. Between 1995 and 2000, some of Chan's best Hong Kong films were released in the United States, often under different names, and frequently edited from their original version, as was the case with Police Story 3, a 1992 film released in America as Supercop in 1996.
Easily the most popular of Jackie Chan's different films series, Police Story spawned four sequels and one spin-off. Supercop, the third film in the series, finds Chan returning as Inspector Chan, a Hong Kong detective with a knack for finding himself in deadly situations that often require him to perform daredevil acts of the most extreme insanity. This time around, Chan is recruited to work undercover and help mainland Chinese forces bust up an international drug empire. Chan teams up with Inspector Yang (Michelle Yeoh a.k.a. Michelle Khan), his equally adept female counterpart within INTERPOL. When Chan helps gang leader Panther (Wah Yuen) break out of prison, he gets in good with the criminal, who is the sinister henchman of the even more nefarious Chaibat (Ken Tsang). With Yang pretending to be his sister, Chan fights alongside Panther and the rest of the gang, earning their trust, until his cover is blown, leading to a dramatic showdown on the streets Malaysia.
Most people would agree that when it comes to Jackie Chan films, story and character take something of a backseat to the fights and the action sequences. If the story is at best easy to follow, or at least only mildly confusing, then that's all you need as long as Chan delivers what he's best known for, which is an incredible mix of comedy and action, and the outrageous stunts he performs, often at great danger to his wellbeing. Although the fight sequences are not as memorable as some of his other films, the stunt work is still more than impressive in Supercop. There is an incredible sequence with Chan dangling from the ladder of a helicopter as it flies through the sky, which leads to a fight sequence on top of a moving train. And not to be outdone, Yeoh also has some impressive moves as she hangs from the side of a truck racing through traffic, and jumps a motorcycle on top of the same moving train where Chan is fighting. The dynamic duo also has some noteworthy fights throughout the film, but the most memorable part of Supercop is the extended chase in the third act.
Although it's not his best film, Supercop ranks among Chan's better movies, and it is certainly bolstered by Yeoh, who carries her own. The story gets silly and ridiculous, but that's not exactly uncommon with Chan's films, and fans of his work know exactly what they're getting into with this movie.
Supercop is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good overall. There are a few scenes where the picture looks a bit grainy, although I suspect that is an issue with the original source material and not the transfer itself. The transfer looks good, with a generally clean image, consistently vibrant colors and no visible flaws with the print source.
Supercop is presented in dubbed English in 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Dolby Digital, as well as in Cantonese in Dolby Digital Mono. Chan dubs his own voice in the English version. There are optional subtitles in English and Spanish that are clear and easy to read. The sound mix is good, and the dubbing in the English language version is not all that bad. The English language version has a new hip-hop (and annoying) soundtrack that was added for the American release in 1996.
Supercop is presented as a two-disc "ultimate edition" release with a second disc of bonus material. The first disc features an audio commentary by Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan. Normally, I'm not a fan of a commentary by someone not associated with the film, but Logan offers an incredibly informative commentary that I suspect is packed with as much information as humanly possible. The second disc features a quartet of interviews with key players in the production: "Flying High: An Exclusive Interview with Star Jackie Chan" (19 min.), "Dancing With Death: An Interview with Leading Lady Michelle Yeoh" (23 min.), "The Stuntmaster General: An Exclusive Interview with Director Stanley Tong" (19 min.) and "The Fall Guy: An Exclusive Interview with Jackie Chan's Bodyguard, Training Partner and Co-Star Ken Lo" (22 min.). The only thing really missing from this "ultimate edition" is the uncut Hong Kong version of the film. The Hong Kong version of Police Story 3 runs about nine minutes longer than Supercop, and it would have been nice to have that version included with this release.
Supercop was released on DVD back in 1998, and if you already have a copy of that version, there is no reason to replace it. Sure, the supplementary material is nice, but not worth re-investing in something you already own. If, however, you don't have the single-disc release, and you are a diehard fan of Jackie Chan, you may want to consider picking up this release. The difference between buying it and renting comes down to how much you like Chan's movies.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]