Family & Companions
After first establishing his martial arts prowess in his native Hong Kong, actor-choreographer-director Jackie Chan translated his massive success in Southeast Asia to become a huge international star, particularly in America. With a reputation as an unrelenting performer willing to risk bodily injury - both with himself and his fellow stuntmen - to create elaborate and jaw-dropping action sequences, Chan amazed critics and audiences with his sheer technical skill while redefining Hong Kong action movies by bringing in an element of comedy. He spent the first couple of decades finding his footing, but had a major breakthrough with the action-comedy, "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" (1978), which propelled the previously-struggling performer into the limelight. Though he took a shot at Hollywood with "Battle Creek Brawl" (1980) and "The Cannonball Run" (1981), he would have to wait until "Rumble in the Bronx" (1996) to make his mark in the United States. But it was his starring turn in the wildly popular "Rush Hour" (1998) and its sequels that cemented his place as one of Hollywood's elite action stars. His status as a bankable actor was further enhanced with "Shanghai Noon" (2001) and its follow-up, "Shanghai Knights" (2003), though he took a stumble with "Around the World in 80 Days" (2004). While he returned to Hong Kong for a number of films, including his first with Jet Li, "The Forbidden Kingdom" (2008), Chan remained busy in Hollywood, as he retained his hold on being a popular box office draw.
Born on April 7, 1954 in Victoria Peak, Hong Kong, Chan was raised in a working class home by his father, Charles, a cook, and his mother, Lee-Lee, a cook and domestic respectively at the French consulate in Hong Kong. After failing out of the Nah-Hwa Primary School his first year, Chan immigrated to Australia with his parents where his father found work as a cook at the American embassy. A year later, Chan was sent back to Hong Kong, where he attended the Chinese Drama Academy, studying mime, acrobatics, singing, kung fu and Peking Opera for the next ten years with master Yu Jim-Yuen. A renowned wu-shen performer, Master Yu created the ensemble group, The Seven Little Fortunes, of which Chan became a member. He made his first onscreen appearance as one of the Seven Little Fortunes in the now-lost martial arts movie, "Big and Little Wong Tin Bar" (1962). He followed up with "The Love Eterne" (1963) and later in the decade with "Come Drink with Me" (1966), a martial arts film directed by King Hu that remained an all-time classic of Hong Kong cinema.
In 1971, Chan graduated from the Chinese Drama Academy and began appearing as an adult in numerous features, including forgettable fare like "A Touch of Zen" (1971) and "Monkey in the Master's Eye" (1972), while serving as a stuntman in famed Bruce Lee movies like "Fist of Fury" (1972) and "Enter the Dragon" (1973). Chan soon had his own starring vehicle, "The Little Tiger of Guangdong" (1973), which became a box office disappointment. By the time he made the adult comedy, "All in the Family" (1975), which did not feature one fight or action sequence, Chan had fallen into a slump, which led to rejoining his parents in Canberra, Australia in 1976, where he worked as a bricklayer and briefly attended Dickson College. Chan was called back to Hong Kong by producer Willie Chan, who paired him with director Lo Wei for "New Fist of Fury" (1976), in which he was billed as a new Bruce Lee. Even though Lo Wei directed Lee in the original "Fist of Fury," Chan was unable to duplicate the success and suffered another box office flop.
Chan finally had a major breakthrough with "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" (1978), which featured a more comedic style that allowed him to fully flourish on screen, leading to a change of course in the Hong Kong martial arts film. He began attracting larger audiences with "The Young Master" (1980) and "Dragon Lord" (1982), while breaking out internationally with a starring role in the slapstick "Battle Creek Brawl" (1980) and a small part as the driver of a high-tech Subaru in "The Cannonball Run" (1981). Chan next took a turn at directing with the action comedy "Project A" (1983), which he followed with an appearance in the abysmal sequel, "Cannonball Run II" (1984). The following year, he directed, starred and performed his own stunts in "Police Story" (1985), which became a huge hit and won several Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture. But because of numerous large-scale stunts, several stuntmen - including Chan - were injured during production. Forced to form the Jackie Chan Stuntmen Association after none were willing to work with him again, he assembled his own team, trained them personally and paid their medical bills out of his own pocket. He also formed Jackie's Angels, a casting and modeling agency, to cast his increasingly elaborate productions.
Chan followed "Police Story" with an even bigger success, "Armour of God" (1987), which went on to become Hong Kong's highest-grossing movie ever up to that point. Finally, after decades of professional disappointment, Chan had become the highest paid film artist in Hong Kong and cultivated an international following. Following "Armour of God," he starred alongside old friends Samo Hung and Yuen Biao - who called each other The Three Brothers - in "Dragons Forever" (1988), which marked the final time the trio starred onscreen together after three decades of collaboration. Chan went on to star in several successful sequels, including "Police Story 2" (1988), "Armour of God II: Operation Condor" (1991), which received theatrical release in the United States, and "Police Story 3" (1992), later released in the America as "Supercop" in 1996. Meanwhile, Chan finally had crossover success with "Rumble in the Bronx" (1996), a dubbed and re-edited Hong Kong martial arts action comedy that found a strong cult following and ushered Chan into Hollywood stardom.
Teamed with former stunt man/precision driver-turned-director Stanley Tong and pop star-actress Anita Mui, Chan was the real driving force behind "Rumble in the Bronx" after securing creative control. Shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the joint venture between Hong Kong's Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema served up an old-fashioned story with state-of-the-art stunts bolstered with a major marketing campaign. Chan had made his arrival, turning up in numerous publications, getting keys to various cities and chatting on late night talks shows with David Letterman and Jay Leno. In the film, he portrayed a vacationing Hong Kong cop forced to contend with gangs and the mob in a quirky and rather quaint version of the Bronx. The nonsensical story provided an excellent showcase both for Chan's peerless athleticism and his engaging personality. Despite some unconvincing dubbing, reviewers and audiences were charmed by the movie, which hauled in $10 million at the box office. America finally discovered Jackie Chan, while Hollywood executives scrambled to find ways to bring in more of Hong Kong's most famous export.
Though his next film, "Mr. Nice Guy" (1998), stumbled at the box office, Chan had his first taste of blockbuster success with the crowd-pleasing action comedy, "Rush Hour" (1998), which teamed the martial artist with rising comic actor Chris Tucker. Chan played a Hong Kong detective who forms an uneasy partnership with a rogue LAPD detective (Tucker), as both try to track down the kidnapped daughter (Julia Hsu) of the Chinese consul (Tzi Ma). A huge box office hit in the United States, "Rush Hour" catapulted Chan to true stardom and set the tone of the next stage of his career - namely, being teamed with a popular American sidekick in action-oriented buddy comedies. He next had a successful outing with Owen Wilson in "Shanghai Noon" (2000), a highly amusing comedy-Western that saw Chan as the Chinese Chon Wang (sounds like "John Wayne") seeking a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu) in the Old West with the help of Wilson's scalawag Roy O'Bannon. Once again, Chan showed real charm as a fish-out-of-water, while providing a great foil for Wilson.
After reuniting with Tucker for the inevitable sequel, "Rush Hour 2" (2001), which fared even better than its predecessor, Chan joined Jennifer Love Hewitt for "The Tuxedo" (2002), an action comedy that was made with some verve and ingenuity, but failed to lure large audiences. Meanwhile, he rejoined Wilson for the sequel "Shanghai Knights" (2003), which took the two leads to London for a further dose of slapstick action. That same year, Chan starred in the English language Hong Kong actioner "The Medallion" (2003), playing a detective who suffers a fatal accident involving a mysterious medallion and is transformed into an immortal warrior with superhuman powers. Most critics found the film to be a fairly standard Chan outing, with a few eye-popping action stunts and a potent dose of his charms. Chan next appeared headlining the all-star ensemble of "Around the World in 80 Days" (2004), a loose, comedic version of the classic Jules Verne novel in which Chan played Passepartout, traveling companion to Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan), who is repositioned as the true star of the story, a Chinese thief traveling incognito and defending the eccentric Fogg from a variety of menaces and bizarre situations. The film did not perform well with critics or at the box office.
Having achieved massive success in America, Chan made a return to his native Hong Kong for a reboot of the "Police Story" series with "New Police Story" (2004). He followed with "The Myth" (2005) and "Robin-B-Hood" (2006), which also wrote, before crossing back over the Pacific to make "Rush Hour 3" (2007), another huge box office hit despite negative critical reviews. Chan next had his first onscreen collaboration with fellow Hong Kong star, Jet Li, in "The Forbidden Kingdom" (2008), about a time-traveling teenager (Michael Angarano) from modern-day America who is thrust back to ancient China, where he joins a crew of warriors trying to free an imprisoned king. After voicing Master Monkey in the hit animated action comedy, "Kung Fu Panda" (2008), Chan had a relatively quiet 2009, only to re-emerge the following year in the children's comedy "The Spy Next Door" (2010). Meanwhile, he took over the Mr. Miyagi role in the reboot of "The Karate Kid" (2010), playing Mr. Han, a martial arts expert who trains a 12-year-old boy (Jaden Smith) to compete in a tournament against the school bullies.
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Returned to Hong Kong at age seven to attend the Chinese Drama Academy
Trained in the techniques of Peking Opera under threat of corporal punishment (caning) and food deprivation
Made feature acting debut at age eight in the Cantonese feature "Big and Little Wong Tin Bar"
After graduating, rejoined his parents in Australia working various odd jobs such as dishwashing and bricklaying
First film role as an adult, "Little Tiger from Canton"
Stunt double for Lo Wei's "Fist of Fury"; executed what was reputedly the highest fall ever attempted in Asian cinema
First credit as fight choreographer, "Police Woman"
First credit as martial arts director, "The Heroine" (also played second male lead)
First film lead, "The Little Tiger of Guangdong" (shelved until 1974)
First released theatrical feature in starring role, "Stranger in Hong Kong"
Appeared in director John Woo's "Hand of Death"
Acted in first comedy, the kung fu parody "Half a Loaf of Kung Fu'
First major breakthrough, "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow"
First mainstream success, the landmark kung fu comedy, "Drunken Master"
Co-directing debut (with Kenneth Tsang), "The Fearless Hyena"
American film debut, "The Big Brawl" with Jose Ferrer
Played a minor role in "The Cannonball Run" starring Burt Reynolds
Directed (also starred) the action-comedy, "Project A"
Appeared in "Cannonball Run II"
Directed "Police Story"; also starred and performed own stunts
Starred in the American-produced police drama "The Protector" co-starring Danny Aiello
Directed and starred in "Armor of God" a parody which became Hong Kong's third highest-grossing film of the 1980s
Directed (also starred) "Mr. Canton and Lady Rose" a remake of Frank Capra's "Pocketful of Miracles"
Played a rare dramatic starring role in "Crime Story"
Created original character for "Jackie Chan's Spartan X a six-issue comic book series
Re-launched US film career as the star of "Rumble in the Bronx"
Teamed with comedian Chris Tucker for the box-office hit "Rush Hour"
Co-starred with Owen Wilson in the action feature "Shanghai Noon"
Re-teamed with Tucker for "Rush Hour 2"
Starred in the action comedy "The Tuxedo"
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Was reunited with Samo Hung as co-star in "Highbinders"
Starred in the action comedy "Shanghai Knights"
Starred as Passepartout in the Disney live action feature "Around the World in 80 Days"
Starred in the action comedy, "Rob-B-Hood"; also co-wrote
Re-teamed with Chris Tucker and director Brett Ratner for "Rush Hour 3"
First onscreen collaboration with fellow Chinese actor Jet Li, "The Forbidden Kingdom"
Lent his voice to the animated feature, "Kung Fu Panda"
Starred opposite Jaden Smith in "The Karate Kid"
Once again voiced Monkey in "Kung Fu Panda 2"
Appeared in "Police Story: Lockdown"
Starred in "Dragon Blade"
Reprised the role of Monkey in "Kung Fu Panda 3"