Project S (aka Once a Cop)
1993, R, 104 min. Directed by Stanley Tong. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Yu Rong-Guang, Jackie Chan.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 17, 1994
Hong Kong film lesson time again, just so you know what you're seeing: Once a Cop (or Project S, its Asian title) is actually Supercop 2, which was, in turn, Police Story 3, the huge Jackie Chan draw from last summer (Chan pulls out the stops on a brief comic cameo here as an undercover Hong Kong police officer in a jewelry store, but Khan, his partner from Supercop, is Once a Cop's lead). As the film opens, we see Khan rescue a diplomat from the clutches of a group of terrorists atop a mainland office building. After being decorated for her valor, Khan's boyfriend Chang -- a Vietnam vet -- tells her he's off to Hong Kong to seek his fortune and will return to marry her later. (“I've got a friend there who's making big money,” he says.) Not long after, Khan is dispatched by her superiors to Hong Kong herself, to aid the local police in their attempts to crack a daring ring of thieves who are going after local banks and jewelry stores. And guess who's the ringleader? From this point on, it's a risky game of “avoid the girlfriend” for Chang while Khan and her Hong Kong allies steadily close the gap. Director Tong keeps the film moving with some beautifully choreographed hand-to-hand combat and muzzle-flash ballet, but he's no John Woo (or, for that matter, Jackie Chan). The stunts seem pared down from the excessiveness of Supercop, but then, that's what kept the whole implausible thing afloat last time. Without Jackie Chan's low-brow comic twists and his death-defying stuntwork (the final, lengthy helicopter gag in Supercop has yet to be topped on any continent), Once a Cop is pretty tame stuff. Granted, it's still head and shoulders above ninety percent of U.S.-made cops-and-robbers vehicles, but that's not saying much these days. Rumor has it that Chan is stockpiling a veritable treasure mine of movies for future release as he ages past his prime; hopefully, we won't have too long to wait before the next one arrives.