In a movie premise that wouldn’t seem out of place with this actor’s career filmography, Jackie Chan went to the Oscars. Instead of being the humble, out-of-place figure from his movies, he arrived on the red carpet, last month, as the main character, to be lauded by the industry with an Oscar and as an inspiration for all actors worldwide.
(Featured Image: ETonline.com, Getty Images)
Clocking in 200 movies under his belt, spanning over 56 years, with much of these as director, producer and stuntman, he is the epitome of the hardworking Asian. A point made more apparent as he took the stage garbed in a Chinese styled suit with a Mandarin collar and delivered his acceptance speech tinged with a tongue reminiscent of Eastern lands. As a recognised face across the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the globe, this overdue accolade preceded earlier distinctions that include having his name immortalised on a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars, and was surely only “en route” as Jackie’s cult status had only continued to grow since his initial foray into Tinseltown in the late 1990s.
Since then, his unique blend of complex action sequences and fight choreography, interspersed with slapstick comedy has figuratively joined the world, from Cape Town to Cape Cod, with a common love for a Jackie Chan film. As our tribute to the larger-than-life persona that most today have grown up with, it is only fitting to revisit the momentous moment and movies that made Jackie Chan the household name that he is today.
The first involvement in several Bruce Lee films, Jackie’s stunt work brought him to the attention of directors in Hong Kong’s action cinema industry, which was the primary source of the Hong Kong film industry’s global fame.
Cast as a member of a rival pugilistic clan, it was not a significant role within the movie but his unrivalled stunt work reaped rewards in his career as he was roped in for 2 more quintessential Bruce Lee films; Game of Death and Enter the Dragon.
(Photo: The Mind Reels)
Cast in the title role of Master Wong Fei Hung, it was an early example of Jackie’s comedic circus Kung Fu that would come to characterise most of his work. Wildly popular upon it’s release and considered a cult classic today, the film was a huge commercial success and cemented Jackie’s status.
(Photo: Kung-Fu Kingdom)
Sammo Hung and Yuan Biao starred alongside their longtime buddy, Jackie Chan from the Peking Opera School, in one of many collaborations that would see the media dub them the “Three Brothers”. This was a golden era in Hong Kong cinema as there had never before been 3 prominent actors with such chemistry and history dominating the movie screens. Consequently, the effort by the comedic trio earned them a nomination for Best Action Choreography in the 1985 Hong Kong Film Awards.
After a failed attempt to launch a career in the U.S.A, Jackie settled back into Hong Kong cinema to lick his wounds and to work on this masterpiece that would spawn 6 more films, right into the 2010s. The tried-and-tested combination of stupendous stunts, coupled with slapstick comedy was a hit, taking the top prize for Best Picture and Best Action Choreography in the following year. Hollywood would have to wait for another decade.
(Photo: Martial Arts+ Action Movies)
Most in the West would remember this as the film that put Jackie Chan in the spotlight. Prior to this his movies were the preserve of the foreign film section at the corner of video rental stores, lauded and applauded by fan boys. It was all thanks to this movie that Jackie would have his big break in Hollywood and go on to make those wildly popular yet annoying Rush Hour films.
A trilogy of tickle terror, the original which spawned a trio ( Rush Hour 2 in 2001 and Rush Hour 3 in 2007), paired stand up comic favourite, Chris Tucker with the king of action comedy. Love it or hate it, Rush Hour 1 grossed USD 244.4 million at the box office. That alone, probably proved that there were more fans than critics, though many would call for a recount.
Using Jackie where Jackie works best, the same formula was repeated from the Rush Hour series onto a Wild West setting. This time, Owen Wilson served as the unwitting sidekick with an itchy trigger finger. Again, another outing debated by fans and critics, the movie has a respectably favourable rating on movie critic sites, giving a nod to Jackie’s inimitable style.
Keen to milk the success of its predecessor, directors churned out more of the same. The film is notable for two things. First being that Jackie had begun to chafe at being typecast into similar roles, and grow disenfranchised at the lack of control over the productions. Second, is that our country’s own Fann Wong graced the stage with the Asian sensation in this sequel.
Playing an escaped refugee from communist China, this movie marked a gradual shift from action comedy to more dramatic roles, where Jackie got to express a wide range of “serious” emotions on celluloid. The result was a emotionally stirring piece of love, hate, loss and a reluctant hero seeking peace but plagued by violence.
Simply casting Jackie Chan as Mr. Miyagi in this hallowed classic was a testament to his growing star power and respect in Hollywood. Although fashioned as a “star vehicle” for Jayden Smith, actor Will Smith’s son, Jackie’s work on the movie earned him an award from the People’s Choice Awards as favourite action star. Reaping $359.1 million at the box office on a $40 million budget also wasn’t a bad showing either.
At the age of 62 this year, the action star is not showing any signs of slowing down. If not on the movie screen, where he ALREADY has involvement in 7 films up to 2018, then certainly in the areas of charity, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. With such an illustrious litany of achievements on and off the screen that it only leaves the question, “ what took so long?”