Jackie Chan: Purity in motion

Due recognition: Jackie Chan wants to establish a stunt action film award to give recognition to the true heroes who contribute to the success of good action movies. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

Jackie Chan stays true to the things he does best in the latest Police Story movie.

SPECIAL effects may have changed the way most modern action blockbusters are made; but action maestro Jackie Chan still swears by the real thing.

“A genuine action movie is marked by real stunts,” insisted the star, who was in town last week to promote his latest movie, Police Story 2013.

This point of view is only to be expected from a man who holds the Guinness World Record for Most Stunts By A Living Actor. This was one of the two world records awarded to him last year after he made Chinese Zodiac (CZ12). The other title was for Most Credits In One Movie – he wore a total of 15 hats on the CZ12 production.

For a man who has been making action movies across five decades, Chan continues to surprise many with his boundless energy, enthusiasm for filmmaking, and daring new ideas. Casually dressed in a blue and white striped shirt and white pants, Jackie was in his usual chatty mood as he sat down and immediately started to neatly arrange the assortment of recording devices lined up on the table in front of him.

Looking up to see all eyes watching him as he straightened out everything in front of him, Chan smiled and offered: “Yes, I have ADD (attention deficit disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Sitting down here to do this interview is actually more of a challenge to me than you can imagine. I am a naturally active person. I like to move around and keep myself occupied. I also like everything to be tidy and I like to make sure that everything is in order before I begin.”

Police Story 2013 is the sixth installment of the famed franchise, the first film of which is still his favourite. The 1985 Police Story won Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards; Chan himself won two Best Actor accolades for the series, first at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards for the 1992 Police Story 3: Supercop and then at China’s Golden Rooster Awards for the 2004 New Police Story.

Honour the bold

With the increasing focus on film awards these days, Chan said he also wanted to establish a stunt action film award that would “give recognition to the true heroes that contribute to the success of good action movies”.

“It is time (we) paid tribute to real action stars and genuine stunt performers. A film award with categories for best action movie, best action performer for both male and female actors, best action director, best stunt choreography, best fight scene and such.

“Many times, as I stand before the true heroes, the unknown faces of committed stunt performers who lay their lives on the line, all for the sake of making a good action film, I wish that others would realise how much blood, sweat and tears were involved,” shared Chan, who has broken practically every bone in his body. In fact, he almost died after sustaining a head injury during a stunt for the 1986 film Armour Of God.

“A martial arts actor has his work cut out for him. Trying to act and remembering your lines while trying to fight and getting your choreography right; that is definitely not easy to do.

“Most people don’t realise how difficult it is to focus on getting everything right. That is why action movies used to focus on action only. But now, a good script is of paramount importance. I will only make a movie if the script is good,” offered Chan.

Chan went on to say how Police Story 2013 director Ding Sheng bowled him over with a good script, among other things.

“Ding Sheng is a very talented man. He impressed me with his well-written script. His storyboard was in order. He even composed the songs. I Immediately asked when we could commence filming,” Chan said, singing the praises of the mainland filmmaker who also directed his Little Big Soldier (2010).

Mirroring real life

In Police Story 2013, Chan plays a veteran cop who has issues with his estranged daughter, played by mainland actress Jing Tian. The villain, played by China’s Liu Ye, takes advantage of their strained relations in a hostage situation.

Pointing to his relationship with his family, Chan said the character in the movie also mirrored his own, in the way he neglected son Jaycee and wife Joan Lin because his days were spent away from home, as he travelled around the world for movies

and other projects.

Like other Jackie Chan movies, Police Story 2013 also includes a blooper reel during the end credits. One scene shows Chan’s wrists being bound to the arm of a chair with thick metal wires and how he tries to free himself using only brute strength and perseverance.

“I was told that it couldn’t be done. But, that only strengthened my resolve, so I insisted on doing it. I wanted to show Jaycee that it was possible, and that I could do it,” quipped Chan, who just had to prove his son wrong when the young man paid a visit to the set.

Despite his show of nonchalance in the movie, it was apparent that his wrists were badly bruised, cut and even bleeding after he succeeded in breaking free of his bonds.

“It was not easy to do. The skin and flesh around the wrist area is the thinnest, and just a bit of scraping will reveal the bone in most cases,” he explained.

Chan’s fight scenes in the movie also looked very painful, and he admitted that they were as painful as they looked: “The fights were with genuine MMA (mixed martial arts) boxers, not stuntmen; so, they didn’t know how to control their strength when we were filming the fight sequences. Those were rock-hard, solid punches and kicks.”

After he worked with Jet Li on Forbidden Kingdom, Chan said, audiences have been asking for another movie pitting the two stars in another legendary fight scene. “Even Jet Li has said to me: ‘I will play the main antagonist’. And, I am very keen to work with him. But, since we are basically similar in (our) strengths, we have yet to find a suitable script,” he lamented.

The Hong Kong action star turns 60 next year and his birthday plans include the staging of a Peace and Friendship concert in Beijing. The multiple-act event is set to feature performers from all over Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Other upcoming projects include a sequel to his 2010 Karate Kid, a fourth Rush Hour film with Chris Tucker, a musical, and the setting up of a martial arts acting school.

“Not just martial arts, but a martial arts acting school. And, it will not be just martial arts and acting. I will teach everything about making action movies. I will even include skills such as framing and editing. I want to train them to become all-round action stars!” he enthused.

*Police Story 2013 opens nationwide tomorrow.

Related story:

Jackie's cop saga

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