Jackie Chan Took An Untraditional Approach To Writing Police Story

Jackie Chan is so much more than an essential action star. The Hong Kong actor broke new ground in the mid-1980s and gained widespread attention for his slapstick kung-fu comedy style and fearless mindset when executing difficult stunts. In 1985, he directed and starred in "Police Story," his fifth directorial venture, and a massive box office success in Asia and Europe. The actor considers it his best action film — Chan's death-defying stunts in "Police Story" are notable for being the most incredible stunts in the history of action cinema. It is also frequently listed as one of the best action movies of all time because, with stunts like that, how could it not?

Not only did Chan direct and star in the film, but he also wrote the script for "Police Story" alongside co-writer Edward Tang. Surprisingly, the duo didn't write a screenplay as regular Hollywood film screenwriters would. Chan has a penchant for repeatedly putting his life in danger — and as it turns out, his screenwriting process also revolves around that, too. Instead of plotting a story from point A to point B, the two wrote the script for "Police Story" around its deadly stunts.

An unconventional script

"Police Story" went pretty over the top in terms of spectacle and danger, with Jackie Chan enacting stunts that could very well result in catastrophes of the highest order. Despite being majorly stunt-driven, the film is emotionally compelling, and it's pretty crazy to consider Chan co-wrote the script around its action sequences. It's no surprise since there is nothing traditional about how Chan works — the actor has always performed the most ingenious martial art sequences we have seen on the silver screen, no matter the intensity of danger it brings. When it came to writing the script for "Police Story," however, Chan certainly chose an untraditional approach than other screenwriters would.

Roger Ebert's History of "Police Story" details how Chan took a long time to get comfortable as a director. The star has primarily worked in the film industry as an actor, martial artist, and stuntman, and he soon stepped into a role that required him to get behind the camera as well. When he picked up the pen to write "Police Story," he worked with co-writer Tang to structure the film unconventionally, around its action stunts and locations, developing the rest through a "linear progression."

Police Story is an action spectacle

In "Police Story," Chan plays a police officer who gets framed for murdering another and must clear his name by arresting and capturing a big drug lord. The film is a Jackie Chan-centred blockbuster: the action sequences include Chan getting knocked out of a window, there are multiple car chases and car flips, the actor dangles from a speeding double-decker bus, and attends to a climactic fight scene that needs him to slide down a pole covered with lights (and caused him a back injury and second-degree burns). 

Despite Chan's distinctive writing approach, the film remains a highlight of the magic he creates when he appears on the screen. It is a film teeming with brilliant set pieces that work individually and effortlessly come together as one.