He once famously said that he has broken all the bones in his body at one time or the other.
He is known as the actor who has done the most dangerous stunts in the world, sometimes performing stunts for his co-actors (in disguise) in films so that the result would be life-like. Jackie Chan’s stunts are so dangerous that insurance companies have stopped insuring him or his stunts a long time ago.
Which is why, when he announced his retirement from action movies last week, at Cannes where he was launching his latest movie, we could empathise with him. The 58-year old Hong Kong stuntman who rose up the ranks from being a side-kick to the original action hero, Bruce Lee, to becoming a cult figure not just in his own country but around the world, had no hesitation in admitting why he wanted to quit action movies.
“I am not young any more. I am really, really tired. The world is too violent right now. It’s a dilemma — I love fighting. I like action. But I don’t like violence,” he said, possibly bringing an end to an iconic era in the film industry.
Chan’s fans can feast their eyes on his last action movie, “Chinese Zodiac”, before he makes a transition to more serious movies. Those who have adored him have watched his amazing stunts and laughed at his perfect comic touch. They have loved each and every one of his movies, from the hugely popular “Rush Hour” series, “Rumble In The Bronx” and “Shanghai Noon” to his turn as a martial arts teacher and mentor in “Karate Kid”. He also tried his hand at voiceovers when he lent his voice to the character of Master Monkey in “Kung Fu Panda.”
But now, the forever smiling action hero has expressed his desire to change his image and do more substantial roles — of the kind Robert De Niro would do. “I want the audience to know I am not just about fighting. I can also act. I want the audience to know also I’m not only a comedian. I can act. Day by day, year by year, I’m going to show you the real Jackie Chan.”
We thought the real Jackie Chan was the guy we saw in “Fist of Fury” and “Enter the Dragon” in the early 1970s, the guy who shot to limelight with the 1978 film “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow” and the guy who gave audiences their money’s worth in the hundred movies that he has done till now. Clearly we were wrong. But if there is another Jackie Chan waiting to be uncovered, bring him on! We can’t wait to see that gentleman….