Just as we hit an important anniversary for Jackie Chan, we’re celebrating how dang hard he works at making everything look so effortless…
If you missed the news on a recent ThirtyTwentyTen podcast, we talked about how it’s been 20 years since mainstream America got its first real look at the wonder that is Jackie Chan. He’d made dozens of films before Rumble In The Bronx hit US theaters, but the wide release of that movie introduced millions to his comedic mix of stunts, kung fu, and broad gags that made him an international icon. Imagine seeing something like this when most US martial arts films were home to the slow and serious antics of Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal…
At their best, Jackie Chan’s action movies are like a playground full of props to play with, and he makes it all look so easy like a living cartoon. But that ease comes at a big cost, as the credits often show. Inspired by the blooper reel for Cannonball Run (which he had a bit part in), Chan decided all his movies should have one as well – only, replace Dom Deluise giggling with broken bones and medical experts. Of all Jackie’s post-credits making-of, injury filled videos, these spotlit how much blood, sweat, and tears go into making an action hit. Such as…
7. Jackie Chan’s First Strike
Even though Jackie leaps from an exploding helicopter, tumbles down a snowy mountainside and survives multiple takes underwater, First Strike’s most memorable stunt has to be the battle in and around a metal ladder. As you’ll see above and below, Jackie leaps between the posts and uses it as a most effective weapon… but not without tallying up a few more bruises on his face and hands.
This scene is so effective that to this day it’s easiest to jog people’s First Strike memories by saying, “it’s the one with the ladder.” BUT let’s not sell the other stunts short, as Jackie submerges himself in a frigid lake and swims with a shark. As you can tell by the humorous blunders it took numerous attempts to get these stunts right, but once it’s edited together it becomes a mesmerizing dance of violence. – Brett
6. Police Story
After Hollywood spent the early ’80s trying to turn him into the next Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan returned to Hong Kong to make the 1985 movie that’d set the template for most of his future films. Police Story casts Chan as a *ahem* super cop who gets in increasingly desperate battles against large armies of bad guys in highly destructible locales. The opening features a bus chase that nearly splatters Chan and his stuntmen while also tearing apart a shanty town, and you can see just how close they came to disaster in the GIF above.
But it’s the finale that really nearly killed Jackie, as the credits can attest. Even with the use of stunt glass, the amount broken during the big mall battle can’t be safe. And that pole slide at the end? Chan got second degrees burns on his hands from the hotness of the pole, and then when he landed he hurt his back and dislocated his pelvis. That’s the whole movie posted above, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you’ve never seen it – it’s both the true start to Jackie’s stardom and his laundry list of horrible injuries.
5. Mr. Nice Guy
By the time Mr Nice Guy hit US theaters, the Rumble bump had wavered considerably. The opening night crowd was substantially thinner than Rumble, Supercop and even First Strike, making this closer to my Ernest Rides Again theater experience than say, Ernest Scared Stupid. Anyway, Jackie tucks and rolls over a goddamn spinning buzzsaw, a stunt that made the audience audibly gasp when it happened.
The other moment that stands out is Jackie scaling the impossibly large tires of a Devastator-sized dump truck. The fact this thing is in motion while he darts in around between the tires always make my toes curl, because a mistake here doesn’t mean a broken nose – it’s a verrrrry closed coffin funeral. Bonus: Jackie sings the theme, because why not! – Brett
Jackie Chan’s closest-to-death experience and a motorcycle jumping over a train await you on the next thrilling page!