Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Actor/Director Spotlight: Essential Jackie Chan...

Alright, so I have a very great taste for the physical comedy cinema... It is essentially what I grew up on, other than the wholesome old school Westerns. I had lived sort of on the existence of comic book heroes, but I also lived on Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan.

To say Jackie Chan is not a man who represents the old school method of physical comedy and talent for storytelling is very harsh and insulting. He is easily my favorite cinematic martial artist, though he's not entirely the greatest.
Most martial artists in cinema base their movies more as a setting for them to show off being fast or powerful without any real care about making us care for their characters beyond being a badass. Tony Jaa seems to be the most forgivable as, rather than trying to ignore it, he actually embraces it, using his movies like The Protector or Ong-Bak more as a demo tape for his ability in the vein of skateboarders showing off their tricks than he does use it as a classic feature film.
Jackie Chan is very different. He tells a story with every movement he makes, like a mime out of his realm. He uses the setting, he involves everything possible. His choreography is intense, yet a real treat for the eye... it would be insane to see a wide shot of each one, given how easily everything could go wrong.
His fights are like Gene Kelly's dances... they are a splash from the rainpool that is left behind by these celluloid fantasies.
He has a face rubber, legs of springs and a true spirit for the circus, which he find of originates from. He writes and directs his true passion projects and has a team he loves working with. He's an auteur in the strictest sense.
And when he gets hit, he makes you feel the hits. His movements are like John Bonham's drumming, off-balance but getting you into the groove.
His screen persona has been lovingly crafted as the sympathetic rebel with a heart and it worked. He is a troublemaker but he stops it eventually.

Not only that but when you see his stuntwork and his outtakes in his older Hong Kong films, he suffers to hell and back again for his craft. The Jackass crew has absolutely nothing on him. Just look at the stunts in those early films of his and realize he is not playing around... those are for real... helicopter chasing, train fighting, electrocution, falling... he's got a death wish for his movies.
The worse degree is when he almost died on set of Armour of God, just from not having a fucking crashmat in case a branch broke (it did).

He is a far cry from a fan of his American films, which I both don't blame him for and yet think he needs to understand he owes part of his international appeal to some of these films. Certainly Rush Hour made him a huge American name and it's arguably the only good Brett Ratner movie made (Maybe After the Sunset was alright), Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights have provided a balance of comedy while portraying a new side of him with their genre-bending and The Forbidden Kingdom, while being a somewhat decent but not great film, opened up to that fandom wish of a Jackie Chan and Jet Li fight... and they make him more accessible to a world's audience with his versatility.

I kind of grew up on the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon as well, because it had that feel of a great Jackie Chan flick while doing things he couldn't possibly do in real life. And his Uncle's character was excellent. One more thing!

Sure, he's not even close to Chaplin's skill in acting or directing, but he warrants a lot of respect. I demand people watch more of his movies.

Above all, who the fuck hates a Jackie Chan movie? Who the fuck goes to a Jackie Chan movie thinking 'this better be Citizen Kane'? You're going to have fun with a Jackie Chan film... even the bad ones...

So, why do I write this? Because a friend of mine asked me to make a list of Jackie Chan movies he must watch... So I relent...
Drunken Master
Drunken Master II
Project A
Project A Part II - My favorite Jackie Chan film
Rush Hour
Police Story
Dragon Lord
Winners and Sinners
Armour of God
Operation Condor
Police Story 3: Super Cop
Rumble in the Bronx
Who Am I?

.... I really want to put Twin Dragons, but it is not essential essential. So, there you have it. My suggestions for a Jackie Chan marathon. Get to it. It's Jackie Chan...

He's not a bad singer neither. He has pipes...

Whenever somebody tells me they're sad, I show them the following clip to cheer them up...

1 comment:

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