Year of release: 1973
Directors: Chang Cheh, Tsai Yang-Ming
Action director: Lau Kar-Leung
Stars: Wang Chung, Lily Li, Wang Hsia, Alexander Fu Sheng
Not rated; contains IIA-level violence and language
Version reviewed: Celestial VCD
While it might not be the blood-soaked martial arts epic many people expect from Chang Cheh, Police Force is still a solid cops and robbers action/drama that fans of the genre should enjoy. In his first on-screen appearance, the legendary Alexander Fu Sheng plays a karate expert who is killed when some robbers attempt to kidnap his girlfriend (played by the lovely Lily Li). Vowing revenge, Alexander's best friend (portrayed by HK old-school actor/director Wang Chung) joins the police force in order to catch and then kill the man responsible for Alexander's death.
The plot is fairly conventional and the acting won't win any awards here (though Fu Sheng still manages to display his trademark charm), but Chang Cheh and Tsai Yang-Ming's direction keep things moving along at a good clip. Also of note are the cinematography and editing of this movie -- the film has a very fluid look to it. It's something that I think a lot of recent pictures are trying to capture with their MTV-style shooting and editing, but very few can pull off. When you combine this keen visual style along with some stylish choreography from Lau Kar-Leung, you have the makings of good action scenes as well, which Police Force delivers plenty of.
Though the Shaw Brothers usual low-budget rule is in full effect, there are a couple of pretty big action scenes, including the finale, which takes place on a yacht and reminded me a bit of Die Hard. Even though there is nothing really "great" or "outstanding" about Police Force, it's still worth your time if you're an action fan. In these days of over-promoted excuses for action movies crowding theatres, it was nice to see a film that depended more on craftsmanship, rather than a big budget, neat special effects, or pretty pop stars singing their latest crappy ballad to create excitement.
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