- As one of the most recognizable faces in
international and domestic cinema, Jackie Chan needs no
introduction. In his native land of Asia, the superstarís
popularity has grown to incredible heights. His fan club once
topped 10,000 members, mostly comprised of star-struck young
girls. One unfortunate female actually committed suicide after
she found out that he was married, and yet another crazed fan
attempted suicide for the same reason, but was saved. So, what
is Chanís secret? How did a typical Asian stunt boy rise to
become the biggest non-Hollywood movie star on the planet?
- "I just do the best I can," Chan
explains modestly. The superstar does, however, agree entirely
with the legendary James Brown, who acknowledges Chan as one of
the hardest working actors in the industry. "For the past
fifteen years, Iíve gone almost nonstop," Chan says.
"As soon as I finish one movie, they start filming the
next. Sometimes, they give me one weekís holiday, and then I'm
flying back to Hong Kong to start talking about my next
- While he now enjoys international fame and
fortunate, Jackie hasnít always collected $15 million on top
of gross points as he earned while making the recent buddy
comedy, Rush Hour 2. Though, he did embark on the road to
stardom very early in his career. At age of 6, Chan apprenticed
to the China Drama Academy where he rigorously trained in music,
dance, and traditional martial arts. One day, a visiting
filmmaker offered Chan a small role in his movie as a stuntman.
Chan eagerly accepted the part, which sparked his passion for
the entertainment industry. Soon after, he left the Academy to
pursue a career in film. Chanís talent and enthusiasm found
him larger and more important roles, until he eventually
graduated to stunt coordinator and then to second unit director,
all before his 20th birthday.
- Although the death of martial arts legend
Bruce Lee shocked the world with grief, it opened a door for
aspiring entertainers like Chan. Asian cinema began frantically
searching for an entertainer who could inspire audiences on the
same level as Lee. Almost every young martial artist was given a
chance to showcase their talents, and many tried to duplicate
the style of Bruce Lee. Chan, however, stood apart from the
rest. Instead of imitating Lee, he developed his own style,
blending both comedy and martial arts action. Chan still
encourages his fans to do as he did and be themselves, not
shadows of other people. "Don't try to be like
Jackie," he proclaims. "There is only one
- Chanís refreshing style provided him with
huge opportunities, of which he took full advantage. In 1980, Shi
Di Chu Ma, Chanís directorial debut, was a milestone in
martial arts cinema as one of the first movies to effectively
blend screwball comedy with martial arts excitement. Its success
set the pitch for many of Chanís future films, which continued
to unite humor with faced-paced martial arts action. As he began
making a name for himself, Chan became more of a descendant of
Buster Keaton than of Bruce Lee.
- Although he has well over one-hundred movie
credits listed on the Internet Movie Database, Chanís most
popular films, many of which he also wrote, produced, and
directed, include Project A (1983 and a 1987 sequel), Wheels
on Wheels (1984), the Indiana Jones spin-off Armor
of God (1986 and a 1991 sequel), Police Story (1987
and a 1989 sequel), Dragons Forever (1988), the
comedy-drama Miracles (1990), and Twin Dragons
(1992), which wasnít released in America until years later.
More recent credits include Police Story 3óSupercop
(1992) and Crime Story (1993).
- His first attempts to break into Hollywood
failed when Americanís didnít express much interest in The
Big Brawl (1980), Cannonball Run (1981 or a 1984
sequel), or The Protector (1985). After several failed
attempts, however, Chan finally found his market in the United
States as a leading man in martial arts action comedies, such as
Rumble in the Bronx (1996), First Strike (1997), Mr.
Nice Guy (1998), The Legend of Drunken Master (2000),
and The Tuxedo (2002). Most recently, he conquered the
worldwide box office in Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon.
He also has a slew of upcoming projects, including Around the
World in 80 Days, scheduled for release in December.
- Now that he has found his market in both
America and Asia, Chan is twice as busy. Both industries have
kept Jackie so popular heís having trouble keeping up with his
own success. "Now I have to make two movies a
year,"" Chan explains, "one for the American
market, and one for the Asian market." Chan is thankful,
however, that his home country isnít as challenging as the
American market. "In Asia, I'm already on the top. I never
do promotions," he says. "Making movies is my job.
That makes me successful. By making a movie, I am helping
people. If it's good for the society, I'll do it. But I'm still
new in America. I still have to travel and do promotions to
introduce my movies. I hate promotions."
- Despite the time commitment, Chan be going to
continue functioning at this rigorous pace for as long as
possible. "I'm very lucky," he claims. "I've been
in the film business successfully for 20 years and I'm still on
top. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and say, ĎJackie, youíre
- Chan sure is luckyólucky to be alive, that
is. He was recently set to star in a film called Nosebleed
as a window-washer at the World Trade Center who must stop a
deadly terrorist plot. Chan was supposed to be filming a scene
at the top of one of the twin towers at 7:00 AM on Sept 11,
2001, but didn't since the script wasnít ready in time.
Understandably, the project was cancelled after the terrorist
attack on the World Trade Center.
- Also, since he always does his own stunts,
Chan is reportedly number-one on the insurance blacklist, as he
should be. While performing, the actor has broken his nose three
times, his ankle once, most of the fingers, both cheekbones, and
even his skull. He also has a permanent hole in his head from a
stunt accident. Often, audiences get a taste of his pain during
outtakes of failed stunts and other accidents that Chan often
includes at the end of his films. Yet he claims to know his own
limits. "I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid," he explains.
"It's just very important that I get hurt [when Iím
making a movie]."
Directors who have worked with Chan claim he is
one of a kind. "I truly believe there is not another actor on
the face of the earth who could have done this role, and certainly
not to his level of expertise," says director Kevin Donovan of The
Tuxedo. "I don't think anyone else has that kind of
physical dexterity. The man is amazing."
- Chanís amazing achievements have earned him
numerous awards. Though he hasnít got his hands on an Oscar
yet, his shelves are stacked with nominations and awards from
various institutions and committees, rewarded to him for reasons
ranging from best "butt-kicking fight scene" to best
actor in an action film. Even his daytime animated series Jackie
Chan Adventures was nominated in 2002 for a Daytime Emmy for
Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.
So, what exactly is Jackie Chanís secret? How
has the superstarís success shifted so effortlessly from continent
to continent? Itís impossible to pinpoint one thing in particular
that has made Chan such a big success. Perhaps itís his amazing
physical dexterity, or his ability to blend slapstick humor with
high-energy action, or his free spirit, or his on-screen charisma,
or, as Chan himself puts it, perhaps itís just good luck. Whatever
the reason, Jackie Chan has become a face known to audiences
everywhere will be remembered for generations to come as one of the
most successful superstars of all time.