(This is the 17th of 50 pieces that originally appeared in a Facebook group devoted to three of us choosing our 50 favorite movies. I’ll present them un-edited except for typos or egregious errors. I’ll also add a post-script to each.)
I don’t know for sure which Jackie Chan movie is my favorite. Police Story 3: Super Cop (can I just refer to it by its American title, Supercop?) is more like a James Bond movie than typical Jackie Chan for most of its running time, but the final fifteen minutes more than make up for any loss in the stunts department. There are Chan movies with more martial arts, there are funnier Chan movies, there are Chan movies with more non-stop action … there are a lot of great ones, in other words, and while I knew I’d have him on this list, I wasn’t sure which one to choose. What Supercop has that the others are missing is Michelle Yeoh, who made her first appearance on this list back at #49.
Chan famously does his own stunts, of course; just as famously, he is reluctant to let his female co-stars do theirs. Yeoh convinced him otherwise. In fact, she gets more martial arts scenes here than does Chan, and while the most spectacular stunts are Chan’s, Yeoh pulls off a couple of classics in that area, too. As the outtakes demonstrate, yes, that was really her swinging on the side of a bus, falling off the bus into a speeding car, and driving a motorcycle onto a moving train. Which says something about Jackie Chan movies: the stunts Yeoh performs are awesome, but Chan tops them.
Chan is the reason this film makes my list; he is one of the greatest film icons of all time, and any of his HK films prior to his Hollywood move are worth hunting down. I’m partial to the first Police Story and Armour of God 2: Operation Condor. Chan is seemingly masochistic in putting his body on the line for his audiences, which is noted in the inevitable set of outtakes during the closing credits of his movies, where we see the takes that didn’t work out as planned.
But, as you can probably tell, I have a soft spot in my heart for Michelle Yeoh, a wiry 5’4” woman with no martial arts training who calls on her background in dance to create work that is entirely believable on the screen. She is so fluent, one can only imagine that ballet is excellent preparation for movie martial arts. There is a reason Yeoh was named the greatest action heroine of all time by Rotten Tomatoes.
Comments focused on how few Chan movies my compatriots had seen. I admit I was surprised to find this out.