Story: Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) is a policeman and specialized in negotiating with hostage-takers and suicidal persons. Because of his
work he never found time for his family and so he is surprised when his daughter Miao (Jing Tian) wants to meet him at a bar. But Miao is still mad at her
father for neglecting her and has just invited him to introduce him to his new boyfriend Wu Jiang (Liu Ye). Wu is the owner of the questionable bar and Zhong
dislikes him from the very beginning. It turns out that the policeman's hunch is right, because suddenly Wu takes the bar guests hostage. Apparently,
Zhong is his main target, but he also demands of the police arriving at the scene that they bring him a certain prisoner. Zhong at first manages to
free himself, but it soon turns out that Wu has planned the hostage-taking long in advance and thought of everything. The attempts of the police to
storm the bar aren't fruitful either. Moreover, it seems that the hostages weren't at the bar at that time by chance. Wu has a certain goal in mind and Zhong
tries to uncover it by negotiating with the hostage-taker.
Review: It has been said before, but that doesn't make it less true - the biggest problem of this gritty thriller is that the title
includes "Police Story". That is because the film doesn't have anything to do with Jackie Chan's showcase movie series. This is an independent movie, similiar
to "New Police Story", in which Chan plays a Mainland-Chinese, who naturally is a cop and getting a bit long in the
tooth. Accordingly you shouldn't expect any extraordinary fights and certainly no dangerous stunts. That's disappointing because that's the kind of
expectations that go hand in hand when watching a movie with this title. Apart from that this thriller proves to be a solid affair and even delivers a story
that at least some thought was put into.
It's surprising that Jackie Chan manages to maintain a dark tone throughout the whole movie. No slapstick, no humor, no nonsense. That's laudable, but then
again it also isn't the first time. In "Shinjuku Incident" Chan has already proven that at his age he is now ready for
more serious roles. The cop he embodies is brought across in a believable way, but the movie simply is no "Police Story" and that's something someone
in your head is constantly shouting out loud. But that's not the only thing that bothers. The beginning is also odd. You are thrown right into the action and
the bar is introduced at which almost the whole movie takes place. A strange setting, which becomes even the more obvious when Chan climbs over pipes in
order to take out villains as if being John McClane.
However, freeing the hostages isn't that easy after all and suddenly we find ourselves in some flashbacks that aim at creating a connection between cop
and villain. This is only successfully done to a small degree. Reason for that is the characters who are drawn rather shallow. Especially Liu Ye
("City of Life and Death") struggles delivering a consistent villain. It may be intentional that his motives
are kept very vague, but it does the movie more harm than good. Even the more as it turns out later on that the director relies very much on the viewers
goodwill. The reason for the hostage-taking may be comprehensible, but seems rather contrived. Wu Jiang could have gotten what he wants a lot easier.
Furthermore, there are some coincidences to be found in the story that grow into plot holes.
The directing by Ding Sheng ("Little Big Soldier") is very modern and is supposed to make you sit at the edge of your seat. But the thriller isn't as captivating as it wants to make us believe. Also irritating in this respect is a failed soundtrack that tries to pump us up. At least the atmosphere is quite dense most of the time. And Ding doesn't make the mistake of putting the aged star into a fight with a guy who is a lot younger and yet make him cut an unbelievably good figure. In the actually only real fight of the movie Chan doesn't jump around energetically, but instead does more ground fighting. There are also a few high-speed camera shots that give the scenes that special something. "Police Story 2013" works well as a thriller without much action, but then again why the title?
In the end you get a refreshingly gritty HK-thriller. Only Jackie Chan seems rather out of place sometimes. He isn't interfering or something like that, but there are still certain expectations you have when seeing him in a movie. Maybe another actor in the lead wouldn't have been such a bad idea. Ding Sheng manages to put together a modern thriller thanks to his interesting directing and editing, though, which sadly only struggles with an ailing screenplay that wants to come across being smarter than it is. The constant Mainland-China compliant "every life is predcious" line also leaves no doubt that the film will stay within a certain moral frame. This takes some momentum from the thriller as does the drama which isn't that believable all the time and almost starts to shift into a soap opera at the end. Still, as a gritty thriller "Police Story 2013" is quite ok.