Editor’s Notes: Police Story: Lockdownand I Am Chris Farley are out on their respective formats August 11th.
Police Story: Lockdown
Police Story: Lockdown (Well Go USA) is an unusual fit for Jackie Chan since it showcases Chan’s dramatic ability more than his physicality. With a look that suggests a combination of age, “been there, seen it all,” and determination, his Zhong Wen is both grizzled veteran and calm, patient negotiator. His years of experience on the police force have sharpened instincts that enable him to read a situation instantly and act appropriately. At over 60, Chan no longer does the wild stunts that made him a star, so the story becomes more important in holding viewer interest.
Capt. Zhong Wen is a police officer obsessed with his job, relegating his wife and family to a second tier in his order of priorities. An upcoming wedding offers Zhong the chance for a reunion with his daughter (Jing Tian), who’s been estranged from her father for years. But her fiancé is proving to be a nightmare to his potential father-in-law even though they’ve just met and have known each other for a short time.
Unfortunately, Chan never gets to perform his trademark action set pieces, being burdened with exposition and unimaginative staging by director Ding Sheng. It’s inevitable that actors age, but for an individual so identified with over-the-top, elaborately staged stunt work, Chan is disappointing as this new, more introspective persona.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include interviews with director and cat; behind-the-scenes making-of features, and theatrical trailer. The film is in Mandarin, with English subtitles. An English dub option is also available.
I Am Chris Farley
I Am Chris Farley (Virgil Films) is the entertaining story of the Saturday Night Live comedian who died from a drug overdose at age 33 in 1997. The documentary showcases many of Farley’s characters and skits from TV and film along with photographs, home movies and family snapshots. Among the excerpts: Farley’s Chippendales audition skit with Patrick Swayze, his ill-fated salesman in Tommy Boy, and his diatribes as Matt Foley, motivational speaker who “lives in a van down by the river.” There’s also a video of Farley’s sketches at Chicago’s Second City comedy theater.
Thoughts on Farley are provided in on-screen interviews with Christina Applegate, Tom Arnold, Dan Ackroyd, Bo Derek, Jon Lovitz, Mike Myers, Bob Sagat, Adam Sandler, Molly Shannon, David Spade and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Also contributing comments are Farley’s brothers and sister, who portray him as the family clown and school athlete. One of his brothers, Kevin, is an executive producer of this documentary.
Farley’s tenure on Saturday Night Live lasted from 1990 to 1995. Producer Lorne Michaels offers personal insights into Farley’s personality and how his work ethic made him an important contributor to the cast’s collaborative efforts to do their best. The film doesn’t attempt to mask Farley’s drug dependence as several co-workers and friends discuss how Farley had trouble dealing with the “instant” fame his appearances on the show generated. Though he thrived on audience laughter, off stage Farley often sank into darkness and despair.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include a featurette on the Farley siblings and a photo gallery.
For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.