Thursday, November 26, 2015

Film Review: Police Story: Lockdown (2013)

Police Story: Lockdown (aka Police Story 2013) (Review)
China/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a dark and exciting action-drama with plenty of suspense."

Detective Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) visits the Wu Bar to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Miao Miao (Jing Tian). To his utter dismay, he finds himself as one of the main targets in a scheme of vengeance...

Police Story: Lockdown is a fairly simple crime-drama. The film follows Zhong as he visits the Wu Bar and meets Miao's boyfriend, club owner Wu Jiang (Liu Ye). He's knocked unconscious, then finds himself restrained to a chair and talking to Jiang. He sees Jiang used Miao to lure him to the reinforced bar. So, the film begins to hop back-and-forth, from bar to case, as Zhong tries to find out why Jiang has captured him and what his intentions are with the hostages he's kept. There's a chase here, a shootout there, and fights everywhere. It's not really action-packed, but it injects more than enough action to balance out the cliché plot. The film leads to a decent climax and ending — the climax felt like a scene out of a soap opera, though.

Police Story: Lockdown isn't a bad film. Unfortunately, considering the change in mood, many Jackie Chan fans will be disappointed; for said fans, this may be deemed a "bad" film. This film is dark and gritty, almost completely devoid of charm and humor. There are a few jokes in here, but most of the film relies on its dark and sorrowful ambiance. This isn't for fans of Jackie Chan's funner, more slapstick films.

With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The plot is occasionally convoluted and cliché, and there are a few pacing issues, but it was ultimately entertaining. The fight scenes were exciting, the chase scenes were thrilling, and it really does nail that melodramatic soap opera atmosphere — even if it's often unintentional. The latter may not be perfect, but it works. I loved the "centerpiece" fight scene, too — you should watch it even if you don't watch the rest of the film. There are a few contrived scenes working to create a sense of “fabricated” suspense, though — you know, those moments that purposely withhold information to keep you on edge only to reveal it later.

The acting was good, too. Jackie Chan plays a very brooding and somber detective — again, opposite of his cheery usual. I liked Jackie Chan in his this role, I think he nailed the proper emotion. Although the stunts are a little more limited, he's also as nimble as ever. Jing Tian was a little overdone, though — then again, most of her performance after the introduction consists of hysterical crying. Liu Ye was good — not memorable for villain, but good. Like the plot, the film's cinematography is dark and gritty. It looks good, I liked the atmosphere. The music felt ill-fitted at times, it didn't really match the tone. Writer and director Ding Sheng knows how to craft an action film, but is lacking in the storytelling department. In this case, he uses unnecessary flashbacks to fill a simple plot and his pacing is out of balance.

Overall, I liked Police Story: Lockdown. It's a dark and exciting action-drama with plenty of suspense. The plot could be better, but it ultimately works out. If you're a big fan of Jackie Chan's more comedic action films, though, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you don't like these types of dark and violent action films, then I don't recommend watching it — it's just very likely you won't like it and you'll complain about Jackie Chan's character. However, if you like Jackie Chan and you're more open-minded, give it a go with a cheap rental or stream. I enjoyed myself from beginning to end.

Score: 7/10
Parental Score: Strong violence and blood.

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