I’m going to keep this brief, because much has already been written and said about how great Jackie Chan is, but I wanted to give my quick take on why he is so special to me. I spent a portion of this weekend visiting his older films, specifically watching Drunken Master, Project A, and Rumble in the Bronx because I realized I hadn’t seen a lot of his original Hong Kong films outside of Police Story. I loved the Rush Hour films in middle school and high school, but I never got around to seeing his older Hong Kong films until recently. I wanted to see more of his work because Jackie Chan served as my introduction to Asian cinema and the world of martial arts films.
Because of him, I sought out movies starring Bruce Lee and Donnie Yen. I was able to appreciate the influences of Kill Bill and The Matrix, giving me a deeper appreciation for those American films that so wonderfully captured the style of Hong Kong and Japanese style of filmmaking. Jackie Chan’s films started my appreciation of films featuring wuxia, Kung Fu, and wing chun.
Jackie Chan’s combination of insane stunt work and physical comedy made these films accessible to me. His American films were a solid starting point, making me explore and seek Asian films with better fight choreography. His films allowed me to appreciate the action in the films, and overlook the script or poor production values of some martial art films (admit it, Enter the Dragon, although bad ass and no one can compare to Bruce Lee, is pure 70s silliness). Chan has an ability to bring such joy and charm to his work that is all too rare. That charm and perfectionism in his stunts is why he is so enjoyable to watch.
He will always remain one of my favorite stars. After all, he gave me a fondness for martial arts films. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know how long it would have been for me to discover classics like Hero, The Raid, Ip Man, or Once Upon a Time in China. Jackie Chan opened the doors to Donnie Yen, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Zhang Yimou’s wuxia trilogy, and so many great films. Chan is one of the finest.
I’ll leave you with this video from the excellent YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting, describing in a way that I never could, of why Chan is so great: