|François||2.75||Uneven mix of too many things|
The trailer already gave a mix feeling: lot of action, a "darker" Jackie Chan, but also some pop stars and humor. To mix drama with action and comedy is surely not something easy. What NPS tries to achieve is interesting, but the influence of a company such as EMG is sadly too important it to make it successfull
Jackie is not playing the usual "Jackie Chan" character here, after fifteen minutes you will see him drunk throwing up in the street. Jackie is really putting as much effort as possible to give an intense performance, you will see him cry more than never before in this movie. But sadly the touching scenes are never totally efficient, as the character development is too short. To share something with the characters, you need to know them. And everything is happening too quickly in NPS. Same for the character of Daniel Wu, the trauma is probably the shortest in the cinema history: 5 seconds, there you go. Instead of adding too many characters and adding some comedy, the scriptwriter should have developped more this drama part. Some of the touching scenes almost become funny because of this lack of development.
It's quite a pity as the casting is doing quite well. You would just like to see them playing better characters. Jackie is trying his very best, Nic Tse is very good even if his character is too nice and funny sometimes, Daniel Wu has the skill to make an excellent bad guy, but never has the time to do it. Charlene Choi is doing some Charlene Choi here, you can't blame her for doing what she is payed for, but you can blame the EMG policy, she is totally useless here, as well as her romance with Nic. Her comedy part is ok, the whole comedy part is OK, but it's quite often killing the efforts of Jackie to build some drama.
What about the action then? Gimme some action, it's Police Story! Well, it's a bit like in the first movie: few scenes, one to open the movie, one short, one long, then long final. None of them are as memorable as the ones in the first movie in my opinion, but it's still better than a lot of recent Jackie's efforts. First scene features mainly gunfights, then two one-to-one between Jackie and Andy On (decent fight, very raw), plus a huge explosion. Then Jackie and a quite convincing Nic Tse fight four guys in a bar (a bit too short, but efficient), before the famous bus scene. This one costs a tenth of the budget, and delivers some impressive stunts. Sadly it feels a bit useless in the story: why nobody tries to drive the bus? It's a bit too much like "let's do some stunts with a bus like in the first movie". Then there is a quite long ending in the convention center, with this time a very nice one to one between Jackie and Andy On. The choreography is nice, with a lot of energy. Andy On is really trying his best here in front of his idol, and has some very hurting falls. The good chemistry between the two actors is clearly the most satisfying aspect of the action part. The final on the roof of the building would have been much better with a fight between Jackie and Daniel Wu. Instead, it's more about drama, and it's hard to feel concerned, especially with the lack of development for Daniel's character. So as you can see, the action is good, there are some impressive stunts and decent yet too short fights.
The main problem of NPS is not the action, but the failure in the mix of elements. Benny Chan is doing a decent job as a director, without any style but without any big mistake either. The music is however a big turndown. Action and drama requires a good music, and this one is clearly NOT. With such a budget, I'm sure it was possible to hire a famous and talented composer. Sadly they didn't, and the consequences are obvious. The fact that Jackie wants a more dramatic movie is also not compatible with the EMG studio. Marketing people at EMG know nothing about movie making, they just care about marketing. The mix of the two approaches sadly gives two losers, and especially Jackie and the drama part.