Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE (born Chan Kong Sang, 陳港生, on 7 April 1954) is an actor, action choreographer, film director, producer, martial artist, comedian, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer from Hong Kong.
Chan is one of the best-known names worldwide in the areas of kung fu and action films. In his films, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons and innovative stunts. Jackie Chan has been acting since the 1970s and has appeared in over 100 films. Chan has received stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a cultural icon, Chan has been referenced in various pop songs, cartoons and video games. Besides acting, Chan is a Cantopop and Mandopop star, having released 20 albums since 1984 and sung many of the theme songs for the films in which he has starred. In 2008, Chan, along with Andy Lau, Liu Huan and Emil Chau, performed the farewell song "Hard to Say Goodbye" at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
Chan attended the Nah-Hwa Primary School on Hong Kong Island, where he failed his first year, after which his parents withdrew him from the school. In 1960, his father emigrated to Canberra, Australia, to work as head cook for the American embassy, and Chan was sent to the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School run by Master Yu Jim Yuen.
Chan trained rigorously for the next decade, excelling in martial arts and acrobatics. He eventually joined the Seven Little Fortunes, a performance group made up of the school's best students, gaining the stage name Yuen Lo in homage to his master. Chan became close friends with fellow group members Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the three of them later to be known as the Three Brothers or Three Dragons.
At the age of 8, he appeared with some of his fellow "Little Fortunes", in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962), with Li Li Hua playing his mother. Chan appeared with Li again the following year, in The Love Eterne (1963) and had a small role in King Hu's 1966 film, Come Drink with Me. In 1971, after an appearance as an extra in another King Hu film, A Touch of Zen, Chan began his adult career in the film industry, initially signing to Chu Mu's Great Earth Film Company. At the age of 17, he worked as a stuntman in the Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon under the stage name Chen Yuen Long. He received his first starring role later that year, in Little Tiger of Canton, which had a limited release in Hong Kong in 1973.
After the commercial failures in his early ventures into films and trouble finding stunt work, Chan joined his parents in Canberra in 1976, where he briefly attended Dickson College and worked as a construction worker. A fellow builder named Jack took Chan under his wing, earning Chan the nickname of "Little Jack" which was later shortened to "Jackie" and the name Jackie Chan stuck with him ever since. In addition, Chan changed his Chinese name to Fong Si Lung, since his father's original surname was Fong.
Chan's first major breakthrough was the 1978 film Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, shot while he was loaned to Seasonal Film Corporation under a two-picture deal. Under director Yuen Woo Ping, Chan was allowed complete freedom over his stunt work. The film established the comedic kung fu genre, and proved to be a breath of fresh air for the Hong Kong audience. Chan then starred in Drunken Master, which finally propelled him to mainstream success.
Upon Chan's return to Lo Wei's studio, Lo tried to replicate the comedic approach of Drunken Master, producing Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Spiritual Kung Fu. He also gave Chan the opportunity to co-direct Fearless Hyena with Kenneth Tsang. When Willie Chan left the company, he advised Jackie to decide for himself whether or not to stay with Lo Wei. During the shooting of Fearless Hyena Part II, Chan broke his contract and joined Golden Harvest, prompting Lo to blackmail Chan with triads, blaming Willie for his star's departure. The dispute was resolved with the help of fellow actor and director Jimmy Wang Yu, allowing Chan to stay with Golden Harvest.
Back in Hong Kong, Chan's films began to reach a larger audience in East Asia, with early successes in the lucrative Japanese market including The Young Master (1980) and Dragon Lord (1982). Chan produced a number of action comedy films with his opera school friends Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The three co-starred together for the first time in 1983 in Project A, which won the Best Action Design Award at the third annual Hong Kong Film Awards. Over the following two years, the "Three Brothers" appeared in Wheels on Meals and the original Lucky Stars trilogy. In 1985, Chan made the first Police Story film, a US-influenced action comedy in which Chan performed his own stunts. It was named the "Best Movie" at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards. In 1987, Chan played "Asian Hawk", an Indiana Jones-esque character, in the film Armour of God. The film was Chan's biggest domestic box office success to date, grossing over HK $35 million.
In 1988 Chan starred alongside Hung and Yuen for the last time to date, in the film Dragons Forever. Hung co-directed with Corey Yuen, and the villain in the film was played by Yuen Wah, both of whom were fellow graduates of the China Drama Academy.
In the late 1980s and early 90s, Chan starred in a number of successful sequels beginning with Police Story 2, which won the award for Best Action Choreography at the 1989 Hong Kong Film Awards. This was followed by Armour of God II: Operation Condor, and Police Story 3, for which Chan won the Best Actor Award at the 1993 Golden Horse Film Festival. In 1994, Chan reprised his role as Wong Fei Hung in Drunken Master II, which was listed in Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies. Another sequel, Police Story 4: First Strike, brought more awards and domestic box office success for Chan, but did not fare as well in foreign markets. Jackie Chan rekindled his Hollywood ambitions in the 1990s, but refused early offers to play villains in Hollywood films to avoid being typecast in future roles. For example, Sylvester Stallone offered him the role of Simon Phoenix, a criminal in the futuristic film Demolition Man. Chan declined and the role was taken by Wesley Snipes.
Chan finally succeeded in establishing a foothold in the North American market in 1995 with a worldwide release of Rumble in the Bronx, attaining a cult following in the United States that was rare for Hong Kong movie stars. The success of Rumble in the Bronx led to a 1996 release of Police Story 3 in the United States under the title Supercop, which grossed a total of US $16,270,600. Jackie then co-starred with Chris Tucker in the 1998 buddy cop action comedy Rush Hour, grossing US$130 million in the United States alone.
Despite further success with Shanghai Noon in 2000, Rush Hour 2 in 2001 and Shanghai Knights in 2003, Chan became frustrated with Hollywood over the limited range of roles and lack of control over the film-making process. In response to Golden Harvest's withdrawal from the film industry in 2003, Chan started his own film production company, JCE Movies Limited (Jackie Chan Emperor Movies Limited) in association with Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG). His films have since featured an increasing number of dramatic scenes while continuing to succeed at the box office; examples include New Police Story (2004), The Myth (2005) and Rob-B-Hood (2006).
Chan's next release was Rush Hour 3 in August 2007. It grossed US$140 million – about $100 million less than the second film, but about the same as the first. However, it performed poorly in Hong Kong, grossing only HK$3.5 million during its opening weekend. The filming of The Forbidden Kingdom, Chan's first onscreen collaboration with fellow Chinese actor Jet Li, was completed on 24 August 2007 and the film was released in April 2008. Chan voiced the character Master Monkey in the DreamWorks Animation film, Kung Fu Panda, released in June 2008, appearing with stars Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie. In addition, he has signed up to assist Anthony Szeto in an advisory capacity for the writer-director's upcoming film Wushu, which is currently in pre-production. The film will star Sammo Hung and Wang Wenjie as father and son. In November 2007, Chan began filming Shinjuku Incident with director Derek Yee, which sees Chan take on the role of a Chinese immigrant in Japan. Filming is now complete and it is currently in post-production. The film is due for release in Hong Kong cinemas on 25 September 2008. According to his blog, Chan wishes to direct a film after completing Shinjuku Incident, something he has not done for a number of years. The film is expected to be the third in the Armour of God series, and has a working title of Armour of God III: Chinese Zodiac. Chan originally stated that he would start filming on 1 April 2008, but that date had passed. If the Screen Actors Guild does not go on strike, Chan will start shooting The Spy Next Door in mid-October, leaving the status of Armour of God III: Chinese Zodiac up in the air. In The Spy Next Door, Chan plays an undercover agent whose cover is blown when he looks after the children of his neighbor.
Jackie Chan performs most of his own stunts, which are choreographed by the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. He has stated in interviews that the primary inspiration of his more comedic stunts were the films such as The General, starring Buster Keaton, who was also known to perform his own stunts without doubles. Since the team's establishment in 1983, Chan has used it in all his subsequent films to make choreographing easier, given his understanding of each member's abilities. Chan and his team undertake many of the stunts performed by other characters in his films, shooting the scenes such that their faces are obscured.
The dangerous nature of his stunts makes it difficult for Chan to get insurance, especially in the United States, where his stunt work is contractually limited. Chan holds the Guinness World Record for "Most Stunts By A Living Actor", which emphasises "no insurance company will underwrite Chan's productions, in which he performs all his own stunts". In addition, he holds an unrecognised record for the most number of takes for a single shot in a film, having shot over 2900 retakes for a complex scene involving a badminton game in Dragon Lord.
Chan has been injured numerous times attempting stunts; many of them have been shown as outtakes or as bloopers during the closing credits of his films. He came closest to death filming Armour of God, when he fell from a tree and fractured his skull, resulting in a permanent hole in his head. Over the years, Chan has dislocated his pelvis and broken his fingers, toes, nose, both cheekbones, hips, sternum, neck, ankle and ribs on numerous occasions.
In recent years, the aging Chan grew tired of being typecast as an action hero, prompting him to act with more emotion in his latest films. In New Police Story, he portrayed a character suffering from alcoholism and mourning his murdered colleagues. To further shed the image of Mr. Nice Guy, Chan played an anti-hero for the first time in Rob-B-Hood starring as Thongs, a burglar with gambling problems.
Jackie Chan has received worldwide recognition for his acting, having won several awards including an Innovator Award from the American Choreography Awards and a lifetime achievement award from the Taurus World Stunt Awards. He has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars. Despite considerable box office success in Hollywood, Chan's American films have been criticised with respect to the action choreography. Reviewers of Rush Hour 2, The Tuxedo, and Shanghai Knights criticised the toning down of Chan's fighting scenes, citing less intensity compared to his earlier films. The comedic value of his films is questioned; some critics stated it can be childish at times.
Chan is a cultural icon, having been referenced in Ash's song "Kung Fu" as well as in "Jackie Chan" by Frank Chickens, and television shows Celebrity Deathmatch and Family Guy. He has been the inspiration for manga such as Dragon Ball (including a character with the alias "Jackie Chun"), the character Lei Wulong in Tekken and the fighting-type Pokémon Hitmonchan. In addition, Jackie Chan has a sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Motors. As a result, Mitsubishi cars can be found in the most recent Jackie Chan films. Furthermore, Mitsubishi honoured Chan by launching Evolution, a limited series of cars which he personally customised.
A number of video games have featured Jackie Chan. Before Stuntmaster, Chan already had a game of his own, Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu, released in 1990 for the PC-Engine and NES. In 1995, Chan was featured in the arcade fighting game Jackie Chan The Kung-Fu Master. In addition, a series of Japanese Jackie Chan games were released on the MSX by Pony, based on several of his films (Project A, Project A 2, Police Story, The Protector and Wheels On Meals).
Jackie Chan is a successful singer in Hong Kong and Asia, having begun producing records professionally in the 1980s. He often sings the theme songs of his films, playing them during the closing credits. In 2004, Chan launched his own line of clothing, which bears a Chinese dragon logo and the English word "Jackie".
Chan has always wanted to be a role model to children, remaining popular with them due to his good-natured acting style. He has refused to play villains and has never used the word fuck in his films. Chan's greatest regret in life is not having received proper education, inspiring him to fund educational institutions around the world. He funded the construction of the Jackie Chan Science Centre at the Australian National University and the establishment of schools in poor regions of China.
Chan is a spokesperson for the Government of Hong Kong, appearing in public service announcements. In a Clean Hong Kong commercial, he urged the people of Hong Kong to be more considerate with regards to littering, a problem that has been widespread for decades. Furthermore, in an advertisement promoting nationalism, he gave a short explanation of the March of the Volunteers, the national anthem of the People's Republic of China. When Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, Chan participated in the opening ceremony. In the United States, Chan appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in a government advert to combat copyright infringement and made another public service announcement with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to encourage people, especially Asians, to join the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
In July 2008, the BTV reality television series entitled The Disciple (lit. "Disciple of the Dragon") concluded. The series was produced by, and featured Jackie Chan. The aim of the program was to find a new star, skilled in acting and martial arts, to become Chan's "successor" and student in filmmaking. Contestants were trained by Jackie Chan Stunt Team members Alan Wu and He Jun and competed in various fields, including explosion scenes, high-altitude wire-suspension, gunplay, car stunts, diving, obstacles courses etc. The regular judges on the program were He Ping, Wu Yue and Cheng Pei Pei. Guest judges include Stanley Tong, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The "Finals" began on 5 April 2008, with 16 contestants remaining, and concluded on 26 June 2008. Amongst those in attendance were Tsui Hark, John Woo, Ng See Yuen and Yu Rong Guang.
The winner of the series was Jacky Tu (Tu Sheng Cheng). Along with runners up Yang Zheng and Jerry Liau, Tu is now set to star in three modern Chinese action films, one of which was scripted by Chan, and all three will be co-produced by Chan and his company JCE Movies Limited. The films will be entitled Speedpost 206, Won't Tell You and Tropical Toranado and will be directed by Xie Dong, Jiang Tao and Cai Rong Hui. All 16 finalists will be given the opportunity to work on the films, or to join the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. Production on the first film is due to begin in September 2008. In addition, the finalists will be given roles in a forthcoming BTV action series.
Construction has begun on a Jackie Chan museum in Shanghai. Work began in July 2008 and is due to finish in October 2009.
Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Chan donated ¥10 million to help those in need. In addition, he is planning to make a film about the Chinese earthquake to raise money for survivors.
On 18 June 2008, Chan was in Taipei, Taiwan to attend a fund-raising for children event, "Baby is Our Hope" held by cable TV channel TVBS. He was greeted by dozens of Taiwanese greeted him with angry slogans: "Not Welcome!" and "Get Out!" at the Taoyuan International Airport. These protestors were upset over remarks made by Chan that accused the president of staging a shooting on the eve of elections in 2004. "I didn't know what to say, I didn't know what clothes to wear. So in the end, I just decided to be natural. Government representative Vanessa Shih asked Taiwanese residents to be calm and to be tolerant of different opinions.
"In a 1999 scandal, he all but acknowledged paternity of a daughter with 1990 Miss Asia Pageant winner Elaine Ng," although paparazzi had also linked Jackie to "everyone from the late Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng to sultry pop star and actress Anita Mui.