With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, April 07, 2012

ACF 1420: Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Jackie Chan was born 58 years ago today in Victoria Peak, Hong Kong. As a young child he was apprenticed a Chinese opera school, where Sammo Hung was an "elder brother" and which Yuen Biao also attended. The three later starred together in several movies, such as My Lucky Stars (1985) and Dragons Forever (1988). At the school Jackie learned acrobatics, singing, and martial arts.

Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Based on his ability to perform amazing stunts and to portray likeable characters in Hong Kong action and action/comedy films, Jackie became one of the most popular stars of international cinema. For many years he unsuccessfully tried to break into the U.S. mainstream. His earliest attempt was in Battle Creek Brawl (1980), also known as The Big Brawl. He finally achieved success in this regard with Rush Hour (1998) and again with Shanghai Noon (2000).

Mr. Nice Guy (1997)

In 2010 he co-starred with Jaden Smith in the remake of The Karate Kid, which I thought was a fine re-imagining of the 1984 original that starred Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. (Of course, it more correctly should have been titled "The Kung Fu Kid," but I believe there were issues that necessitated keeping the same title in the remake.) Currently Jackie can be seen on U.S. television in V-8 commercials, which reference certain scenes from his movies. (Watch one here.)

Jackie Chan's First Strike (1996)

His success in English-language films has not precluded him from continuing to make Asian films as well, such as Shaolin and 1911, both of which came out in 2011. While he's getting a bit "long in the tooth" for some of the more demanding stunts for which he became famous, he still has the capacity to please, entertain, and amaze, both in live-action films and in doing voice overs for such films as Kung Fu Panda (2008) and its sequel.

So, Happy Birthday, Jackie, and many, many, many happy returns to the big screen!

P.S. - There's probably no better way to  celebrate Jackie's birthday than to order your ticket for the special screening of Police Story (1985) at the Walter Reade theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Monday at 6:15 PM. Info here.

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