|(All images courtesy Celestial Pictures.)|
ALLOW me to make a statement that can be considered a lesser form of heresy: if there were no Fu Sheng in Police Force, this Shaw Brothers movie would be no less watchable than it is now. Anyone could've been cast in his part, and fortunately for Sheng, Chang Cheh saw something in this newcomer and gave him those fabled fourteen-plus minutes at the beginning. Whether he was intentionally offering a taste of Sheng to pique the interest of HK moviegoers or hedging his bets by limiting Sheng's involvement in the film, that's unknown, but we certainly have an idea what happened to Sheng after its release (eventually). For now, Cheh's goal was trying to establish Wong Chung as a star, and months after audiences watched him play a juvenile delinquent, they now got to see him in the mature role of a cop (his first of many) in this "slice-of-the-'70s" crime drama, filmed with the cooperation of the (then) Royal Hong Kong Police Force.
After an intense release like The Delinquent, PF seems subdued, by comparison, but considering the movie was made with the blessing of the HKPF, there's little doubt they had final script approval. This is why parts of the screenplay by Cheh and Ni Kuang feel like a recruiting ad, but it's the HKPF's participation that gives authenticity to the police procedures we see within an hour and 41 minutes, as well as make the film look like it cost more to make than what it actually did. Cheh used his access to police buildings, equipment and personnel to positive results.
PF is a transitionary film in the genre of crime dramas, HK style; it's a "last gasp" of an era where characters and situations were defined in terms of "black and white", and it's one of the earlier attempts to bring an audience realism through blood, urban grittiness and antiheroes. Guodong's initial motivation for joining the police force (vengeance) is as emotionally complex as the film gets, and for all the violence there is, it's not elaborately staged and meticulously edited. It's still years away from anything like Police Story or Hard Boiled, so anyone who sees PF on the merit it's a Cheh film should expect an "old school" movie and nothing more. In summary, Wong Chung as a '70s "Supercop" is one hell of an experience worth undertaking.
Brother Fang says..."Chang Cheh, Wong Chung and Fu Sheng: three good reasons to check ths out!"
Keeping it trivial....
Fang Shih-yu, Shaolin Temple.
P.S. - While you still can, purchase it at PlayAsia by clicking here.