Every kid of a certain age grew up wanting to be Jackie Chan. A legend in Hong Kong and most of the world from the late-seventies on, Jackie Chan also, at long last, became a superstar in North America after the release of his 1996 classic Rumble in the Bronx. Supercop, First Strike and more dubbed versions of his Hong Kong movies would follow, but it was 1998’s Rush Hour, which paired him with Chris Tucker, that made him a phenomenon in the United States. It was as if, at long last, the United States was let in on a secret the rest of the world already knew.
Jackie Chan emerged in the late nineties after a failed attempt to make him into a Bruce Lee clone. Never wanting to be a typical martial arts star, Chan opted to mix comedy and martial arts in a way that made him a household name throughout much of the world in the eighties. His movies like Police Story, Wheels on Meals (you read that right), Dragons Forever, Armour of God (which almost killed him), and more were giant hits worldwide. The U.S did indeed try to use him in a few films, with him having minor roles opposite Burt Reynolds in The Cannonball Run and its sequel, and he got solo action films (in English) with The Big Brawl and The Protector. Neither film’s director knew how to use him, especially in The Protector, which tried to make him into a Clint Eastwood-style tough guy, a formula that didn’t mesh with Chan at all, leading to him temporarily swearing off U.S movies. Finally, in the nineties, he could do it his way, and in this episode of WTF Happened to this Celebrity, written (with Mathew Plale), narrated, and edited by Taylor James Johnson, we trace his career and where he’s at now.
What’s your favourite Jackie Chan movie? Let us know in the comments!
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