“Cinema reflects culture and there is no harm in adapting technology, but not at the cost of losing your originality.”
Jackie Chan is synonymous with comical action stunts. Known for his incredible use of his well-timed comedic genius and usage of weapons amidst insane action sequences, Chan is trained in Kung Fu and Hapkido. A veteran in the industry who has starred in over 150 films since the 1960s, Chan is one of the most well-known and influential cinematic figures in the world who bridged the gap between the East and the West, venturing into the West and consequently earning himself a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born on April 7, 1954, in Hong Kong as Chang Kong-sang to Chinese Civil War refugees, Chan grew up in an impoverished family. He reflected his energetic and friendly nature right from his childhood. In reality, he was never too interested in studying and his parents sent him to China Drama Academy where he spent nearly a decade, mastering martial arts and acrobatics. He was a part of an elite performance group named Seven Little Fortunes which comprised the school’s best students. It was here that Chan met Sammo Hyung and Yuen Biao with whom he formed Three Brothers. Chan, who worked as a construction worker under a builder named Jack, derived the alias name of Jackie which he adopted to star in films.
A child actor who began appearing in films at the mere age of five, Chan’s major exposure to the world of martial arts in the entertainment industry was as a seventeen-year-old stuntman in Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. It was his neat and well-crafted stunt work that gained him recognition in the East, and subsequently in the West. In his early roles, Chan had a problem adjusting to Bruce Lee’s martial arts techniques. However, his breakthrough role was in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow. Infusing comedy with kung fu was an ingenious idea of Chan which was well-received in Hong Kong due to his refreshing approach. In the early 1980s, Chan gradually started venturing into the Western realm. Although the audience remained oblivious to his talent, after the release of his first Hollywood film The Big Brawl, followed by The Cannonball Run, Chan derived invaluable lessons from Hollywood before focusing on Cantonese films once again. His film The Young Master toppled Brue Lee’s records and established him as a cinematic superstar in Hong Kong. Gradually infusing originality and various other unique aspects into action sequences, Chan earned himself a worthy reputation.
Despite abandoning his American Dream, Chan’s career in Hollywood was reincarnated by his role in Rumble in the Bronx. The actor was careful to avoid films that would cast him in conventional roles of Asian villains in a Western film whom a white saviour would outwit. Jackie Chan went onto star in various films, including the very popular The Karate Kid which, like many other films, garnered a massive cult following.
A cultural icon and an inspiration for children worldwide, Chan has amassed a massive fan following who are in awe of his ability to effortlessly perform difficult stunts with a goofy smile plastered on his face and incredible comic timing. On this legendary icon’s 67th birthday, let us take a look at some of Jackie Chan’s best films streaming on Netflix.
7 best Jackie Chan films on Netflix
7. Rush Hour franchise (Brett Ratner, 1998-2007)
Dabbling in the buddy cop sub-genre, infusing comedy and action, the franchise follows Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as dysfunctional police officers Chief Inspector Lee and Detective James Carter, who embark on various misadventures and epic journies to expose the criminal underbelly of Hong Kong, battling dangerous and corrupt adversaries. Striking a perfect balance between humour and action, the film boasts of wonderful camaraderie shared by the two actors who star alongside each other in three films constituting the franchise.
After watching Jackie Chan in the uber-successful Rumble in the Bronx, Ratner wanted to desperately cast this iconic actor in this film and flew to South Africa to pitch the film where Chan was filming another film. The film, however, is not Chan’s personal favourite. “I didn’t like the movie. I still don’t like the movie,” he said. “I don’t like the way I speak English, and I don’t know what Chris Tucker is saying”. He went on to say that he preferred his native films because: “If you see my Hong Kong movies, you know what happens.” Chan continued, “Bam bam bam, always Jackie Chan-style, me, 10 minutes of fighting.”
“Do you understand the words that are coming out my mouth?!”
6. The Foreigner (Martin Campbell, 2017)
Based on Stephen Leather’s 1992 novel The Chinaman, this gripping film plotline revolves around Ngoc Minh Quan, a former Vietnam war special ops agent who is now a London restaurateur. He seeks revenge after Fan, his daughter, is killed brutally in a politically motivated terrorist attack despite her innocence. Grief-stricken and bloodthirsty, he blackmails a corrupt politician Liam Hennessy who has ties with the Provisional IRA, the perpetrators of violence.
This film is a little different, devoid of the classic Jackie Chan slapstick humour and kung fu. Here, Chan is a devoted father who is shattered by his daughter’s untimely demise. This triggers in him an intense bloodlust and wrath to avenge her by punishing her killers, while constantly lamenting the loss of loved ones while trying to maintain his level-headedness.
“He’s an old man running circles around the lot of us! He’s ahead of us every step of the way.”
5. Armour of God (Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang, 1986)
Jackie Chan plays an eponymous Jackie who is also known as Asian Hawk, a musician-turned-treasure-seeker. He steals a sword belonging to an African tribe and auctions it off to May Bannon. His former bandmate, Alan, comes in contact with him and seeks his help as their former bandmate Lorelei has been kidnapped by an evil cult; it is later discovered that this was a way of the cult extracting Jackie’s skilled services. Together with May and Alan, Jackie embarks on an epic quest.
This film led Jackie Chan to have a close encounter with death. While shooting one of the action scenes that involved Chan jumping from a wall and grab a tree branch caused the branch to snap on his second attempt and cracked his skull, forcing a piece of bone prod into his brain. Although he miraculously survived, the injury left a slight but permanent hearing loss in one of his ears. With its Indiana Jones-esque quest film trope of navigating through dangerous realms, Chan outdid himself as both a director and an actor by indulging in comical yet neatly-choreographed action sequences.
“I believe in a powerful religion. The name of my god is… money.”
4. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung, 1984)
In Barcelona, cousins Thomas and David run a Chinese fast food van where Thomas delivers the food on a skateboard. They are enamoured by David’s father’s girlfriend Sylvia who, as they later find out, is a dangerous pickpocket disguised as a prostitute. As she steals all their money, the cousins join detective Moby in his pursuit of Sylvia who has actually been kidnapped by a criminal gang as she is the heir to a handsome inheritance. This leads to a showdown in the villain’s guarded castle.
Reeling from the success of Project A, the union of the trio of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao helps create magic on-screen. In a goofy and silly romp of a comedy, Jackie Chan’s action sequences are extremely impressive. In fact, he engages in an actual martial arts battle against professional kickboxer Benny Urquidez in one of the greatest on-screen fights ever attempted. The film used no jump-cuts or other cinematic methods; the fight was raw and real. The film was also based outside Hong Kong, inspired by Bruce Lee who paved the way for Asian films to be shot abroad. Chan’s usual humour is complemented by stupendous action choreography.
3. Project A (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, 1983)
Set in the 19th century, it is seen that although the British rule the lands in Hong Kong, it is the pirates who assert their dominance over the waters. The Coast Guards are assigned with the task of fending off these pirates; however, the pirates have the upper hand as they have successfully covered up their tracks by bribing government officials. Sergeant Dragon Ma, played by Jackie Chan, however, is determined to eliminate them despite the pirates’ constant efforts to thwart his ambitions.
One of Chan’s finest and funniest films, Project A had a sequel film despite Chan’s unwillingness to do one as the Japanese emperor, smitten by it, requested for one. The film is considered one of the groundbreaking films in the cinematic realm of Hong Kong as no other film had such elaborate sets and detailed action sequences. Chan performed his stunts with extreme courage and this was the first Hong Kong film that featured realistic street fights than the traditional kung fu demonstrated in Jackie Chan’s previous films.
“You’ll drive me mad!”
2. Kung Fu Panda franchise
Po is an adorable panda who works alongside his adoptive father in a noodle shop and gorges on dumplings. Eventually, he stumbles upon his fate as the legendary Dragon Warrior who is the only hope for kung fu. as he trains alongside kung fu masters like Tigress, Monkey, Viper, Crane and Mantis under the guidance of Master Shifu, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance while battling various adversaries throughout the course of the three films.
In this widely popular animated film with anthropomorphic animals, the themes of self-love and believing in one’s own ability is portrayed via humour and heartwarming moments. Chan voices the character of Monkey who is goofy and one of Po’s best friends. He can be seen balancing his bodyweight on his tail while sitting in a yogi pose. Although he is playing a supporting role, Monkey, with his outlandish humour, is the beating heart of the legendary Fab Four.
“The true path to victory is to find your opponent’s weakness and make him suffer for it.”
1. Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985)
A virtuous and good-hearted police officer Sergeant Chan Ka-Kui (Kevin/Jackie Chan in some versions) turns in a ruthless drug crimelord named Chor Yuen who is angered and seeks revenge. Chan’s name gets tainted when he is framed for the alleged murder of his fellow cop who was caught in the crossfire. He is forced to stand at crossroads where he must not only clear his name and restore his reputation as the model cop but also keep his possessive girlfriend from leaving him over a series of misunderstandings.
With a hoard of action sequences that include cars throttling downhill and Jackie hanging from the side of a double-decker bus using an umbrella and many more, this film sees a powerhouse of a performance from Jackie Chan. It was a massive success in Asia and has spawned various sequels. Although the premise is dark with certain comedic elements infused in, Chan’s directorial feature sees him at his finest, with top-notch comic timing and action choreography; he goes all out to play the character of this cop who is determined to clear his name.
“Don’t be a cop if you want to live to 100.”