Chan began work on the film after a disappointing experience working with the director James Glickenhaus on The Protector, which was intended to be his entry into the American film market.
The Royal Hong Kong Police Force is planning a major undercover sting to arrest crime lord Chu Tao (Chor Yuen). Inspector Chan Ka-Kui (or Kevin Chan in some versions) is part of the operation, along with undercover officers stationed in a shanty town. However, the criminals spot the officers and the shootout ensues between the two groups in which civilians either flee the town or caught in the crossfire as a result of the gunfight. Chu Tao and his men successfully flee in their car by driving through the town but crashes it immediately after going downhill and escapes on foot. Ka-Kui persists in his chase on foot as Chu Tao and his men attempt to escape in a double-decker bus. Ka Kui manages to get in front of the bus and bring it to a halt by threatening to shoot the driver with his service revolver.
Later, Ka-Kui is reprimanded by Superintendent Li for letting the operation get out of hand, but subsequently presented to the media as a model police officer. His next assignment is to protect Chu Tao's secretary, Selina Fong (Brigitte Lin), who plans to testify in court about Chu Tao's illegal activities. At first, Selina insists that she does not require protection, but after Ka Kui has a fellow policeman break into her apartment and pose as a knife-wielding assassin and later afterwards had his other officers fighting him while Ka Kui attempts to drive away along with her, she becomes more cooperative.
When Ka-Kui arrives at his apartment with Selina, he is surprised by his girlfriend, May (Maggie Cheung) and her friends, who are throwing a birthday party for him, but May becomes angry with Ka-Kui after seeing Selina only wearing lingerie and Ka-Kui's jacket. Ka-Kui later explains to May that Selina is a witness, but after much bumbling and embarrassment, causing her to leave the scene, though she does go to Chu Tao's trial the next day.
Meanwhile, Selina discovers that the attack at her apartment was a sham, and decides to slyly record over her confession about working for Chu Tao that took place in the car ride there. She sneaks away while Ka-Kui is sleeping and is not present at the trial the next day, which ends with failure for the prosecution because of Selina's absence and tampering with the recording.
Though Chu Tao is released on bail, he wants revenge against Ka-Kui. He captures Selina and threatens to kill her to ensure her silence. Ka-Kui finds and frees her, but is attacked by several of Chu Tao's men. When fellow Police Inspector Man arrives (Kam Hing Ying), he reveals that he had been working with Chu Tao and thus Selina's capture was merely a ruse to trap Ka-Kui. To Man's grim surprise, the plan is also to include Tao's men killing him with Kui's gun to frame him for murder. Now a fugitive cop killer, Ka-Kui must try to catch Chu Tao and clear his name, taking his superindendent as hostage in order to escape custody, though he soon lets his co-operative superior go free.
Selina goes to Chu Tao's office at a shopping mall to download incriminating data from Chu Tao's computer system. Chu Tao notices this and he and his men rush to the shopping mall to intervene. Ka-Kui and May, who are monitoring Chu Tao's activities, follow. In the ensuing carnage, Ka-Kui defeats all of Chu Tao's henchmen (and destroys a good portion of the mall). The briefcase containing the computer data falls to the ground floor of the mall, but Chu Tao retrieves it after attacking May. Ka-Kui, at the top floor, slides down a pole wrapped in lightbulbs to the ground floor and catches Chu, but the rest of the police force quickly arrives and prevent him from further taking matters into his own hands. Selina attests to them that Danny Chu killed Inspector Man and evidence of his crimes is in the briefcase. Chu's defence attorney shows up and accuses the police of misconduct, prompting a beating from an at-wit's-end Ka-Kui, who goes on to extend the beating to Chu Tao before being stopped by his friends.Jackie Chan as Sergeant "Kevin" Chan Ka-Kui ("Jackie" on U.S, UK and Australian releases)
Brigitte Lin as Selina Fong, Chu Tao's secretary (as Brigette Lin)
Maggie Cheung as May, Ka-Kui's Girlfriend
Chor Yuen as Chu Tao, Crime Lord aka Tom Koo (New Line Cinema Dub)
Charlie Cho as John Ko, gangster aka John Chow (New Line Cinema Dub)
Fung Hak-on as Danny Chu Ko
Lam Kwok-Hung as Superintendent Raymond Li
Bill Tung as "Uncle" Bill Wong / Inspector Chou
Kam Hing Yin as Inspector Man
Mars as Kim
Lau Chi-wing as Counsellor Cheung
Tai Po as Lee / Snake Eyes
Kent Tong as Tak / Tom / Franscais Tong (Japan version)
Wan Fat as Jacknife / Mad Wing
Bowie Wu as Sha Tau Kok police officer
Clarence Fok as Photographer
Money Lo as TV reporter
Fung Hak On
The film contained many large-scale action scenes, including an opening sequence featuring a car chase through a shanty town, Chan stopping a double-decker bus with his service revolver and a climactic fight scene in a shopping mall. This final scene earned the film the nickname "Glass Story" by the crew, due to the huge number of panes of sugar glass that were broken. During a stunt in this last scene, in which Chan slides down a pole from several stories up, the lights covering the pole had heated it considerably, resulting in Chan suffering second-degree burns, particularly to his hands, as well as a back injury and dislocation of his pelvis upon landing.
Edward Tang, the screenwriter for this film and many others, said that he did not write this film the way normal Hollywood screenwriters work. Chan instructed Tang to structure the comedic film around a list of props and locations: e.g. a shopping mall, a village, a bus, etc. In contrast to this production, most Hollywood films rely on the creativity of the screenwriters to create the plot-elements of a film, which are then forwarded to the director for actual filming.
In an interview with Chan, he discusses the stunt of sliding down the pole covered with lights. As with the clock tower stunt from Project A (1983), Chan described his fear at the thought of performing the stunt. However, during the filming of Police Story, there was the added pressure of strict time constraints, as the shopping mall had to be cleaned up and ready for business the following morning. One of Chan's stuntmen gave him a hug and a Buddhist prayer paper, which he put in his trousers before finally performing the stunt.
Stuntman Blackie Ko doubled for Chan during a motorcycle stunt in which his character drives through glass towards a hitman. In the double decker bus scene, Jackie used a metal umbrella because a wooden one kept slipping when he tried to hang onto the bus.
The film grossed HK $26,626,760 at the Hong Kong box office.
In contemporary reviews, Kim Newman wrote in the Monthly Film Bulletin, that Police Story starts well with its car chase described as an "astonishing set-piece", but that "once the mix of realistic settings and fantasy action seems to have been established, the film falls back on Chan's clowning and turns into a slapstick comedy heavily dependent on cake-in-the-face jokes."" The review concluded that the film "still lacks much of the aesthetic appeal and occasional comic grace of the more traditional period kung fu films such as Project A, Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Dragon Lord. Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times that at a screening of the film at the New York Film Festival that Chan was promoted as a hybrid of Buster Keaton and Clint Eastwood, with Canby noting that Chan was "more like a scaled-down, oriental Sylvester Stallone, with energy and a willingness to smile fondly at himself". Canby also noted the excessive pie-in-the-face gags, and that Chan "participates in several elaborately staged gun fights and car chases" which were "mildly amusing" but not as amusing as the dubbed dialogue. Canby concluded that the film "is of principal interest as a souvenir of another culture."
Later reviews noted included one from the Time Out Film Guide which stated that "In Jackie Chan-land vehicles are for trashing small buildings, while big buildings are for falling off or sliding down... The likeable and graceful Chan directs, sings and performs jaw-dropping stunts."1986 Hong Kong Film Awards
Won: Best Picture
Won: Best Action Choreography (Jackie Chan Stunt Team)
Nominated: Best Director (Jackie Chan)
Nominated: Best Actor (Jackie Chan)
Nominated: Best Actress (Brigitte Lin)
Nominated: Best Cinematography (Cheung Yiu Cho)
Nominated: Best Film Editing (Peter Cheung)
In late 2004, Hong Kong's Intercontinental Video Limited released a remastered anamorphic widescreen Police Story Trilogy boxed set in Region 0 NTSC format, featuring optional English subtitles and a choice of Chinese-language soundtracks. Hong Kong-based company Kam & Ronsom Enterprise released the first three Police Story films on Blu-ray Disc in June 2009. The first film was released on Blu-ray on 14 September 2009.
New Line Cinema acquired the rights to the film, distributing it on VHS and Laserdisc on August 4, 1998, with 11 minutes of footage cut from the original Hong Kong version and a recycled soundtrack score from J. Peter Robinson. On 19 December 2006, The Weinstein Company released the film on Region 1 NTSC DVD (under their Dragon Dynasty label) with special features and deleted scenes; it was also released in Canada on 23 January 2007. Shout! Factory released Police Story and Police Story 2 as a double feature on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 16 April 2013.The shanty town chase inspired a similar sequence in Bad Boys II. There's also a similar scene in the 2004 Thai film, Born to Fight.
Jackie Chan fan Brandon Lee paid homage in his film Rapid Fire by filming a similar sequence from the mall fight scene, in which Jackie's character rams a villain with a motorcycle, through multiple layers of glass.
The scene where Chan stops a bus in Police Story, inspired a similar scene in the Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell film Tango & Cash.
Between 1994 and 2004, the Hong Kong TV series Police Report adopted the Police Story theme song sung by Jackie Chan, as its own theme. Since 2009, the same song is re-adopted as the theme song of Police Report, but sung by Hacken Lee. Televised job advertisements for the Hong Kong Police also adopted segments of the song.
Police Story 2 (Chinese: 警察故事２), made in 1988, features many of the same actors reprising their roles from the original. The story picks up with Chan Ka-Kui demoted to traffic cop for causing so much damage in his apprehension of Chu. Chu has been released from prison on the pretense that he is terminally ill, and Chu and his clan continue to harass Chan and his girlfriend May as Chan gets reinstated to the detective unit when criminal bombers begin extorting money from businessmen.
Police Story 3 (Chinese: 警察故事３超級警察, or Supercop) was made in 1992. Michelle Yeoh joins the cast, portraying a police officer from Mainland China. The story involves Chan and Yeoh's characters going undercover to break up a drug smuggling ring in Malaysia. The action moves from China to Kuala Lumpur, where Chan's girlfriend May is kidnapped. The film marks the last appearance of Maggie Cheung as May. Michelle Yeoh reprises her role in the spin-off, Project S (1993). Dimension Films released Police Story 3 in the US in 1996 under the name of Supercop with some edits to the film, the complete replacement of all music and sound effects, and English dubbing.
Police Story 4 (Chinese: 簡單任務 or Jackie Chan's First Strike), made in 1996, is the only film in the Police Story series made partially in English. The action shifts away from Hong Kong and East Asia, with a globe trekking espionage plot, lending the film the air of a James Bond adventure. New Line Cinema's US release contained several alterations. Filmed on location in Ukraine and Australia, the film also marks the last appearance of Bill Tung, who plays Chan's superior in the series.
New Police Story (Chinese: 新警察故事), made in 2004, is a reboot of the Police Story series. Chan portrays a disgraced detective named Wing, and acts alongside younger Hong Kong actors including Nicholas Tse, Charlene Choi and Daniel Wu. The story features a more dramatic focus, taking a darker and more serious tone.
Police Story 2013 (Police Story: Lockdown in North America) is a 2013 Chinese-Hong Kong action crime film starring Jackie Chan in another reboot of the Police Story film series. The film is directed by Ding Sheng, who previously helmed Chan's Little Big Soldier. According to Chan, unlike the previous Police Story films where he portrayed a Hong Kong cop, in the new film he will portray a mainland Chinese officer. Like New Police Story, 2013 is a stand-alone installment with a darker tone than the previous installments, which were comedies.