With the release of The Foreigner, here is a list of some Chan-tastic films.
(This was a piece I pitched to a site but it got declined. Luckily I kept a copy of what I wrote on my computer. Rather than the piece just stay on my computer and do nothing, I’ve decided to put it on here and see what people think of it. I did put a few hours into it so I do want people to read it. Enjoy.)
Jackie Chan has starred in over 100 films in a career spanning several decades. His films vary from traditional martial arts movies, to action thrillers and action comedies which many know him for. Films such as; Police Story, Rush Hour and Rumble in the Bronx are well known amongst fans of the acclaimed movie star. Another thing that is well known about Chan is that he did all of his own stunts in his films until the film Chinese Zodiac, which was the last film he performed all of his own stunts.
Chan is 63 years young and he is still making movies and kicking ass. His latest film The Foreigner shows Chan in a more serious and weathered role rather than the comedic and quirky roles that he usually plays. Chan is no stranger to starring in more mature and serious films but they aren’t as well known or they are overshadowed by his action comedy films.
This list features some of Chan’s lesser known films stretching across different genres and many decades of his storied career. Fans of Chan who want to see more of his comedy movies or some of his films where he plays a more serious role, this list will help you out.
- The Protector
Jackie Chan is well known for his comedic roles but one of his first American films was an action thriller. The Protector which released in 1985 was Chan’s second attempt at breaking into the American film industry and features him in a serious role. Chan stars alongside Danny Aiello who has appeared in films such as The Godfather: Part II and Léon.
Chan plays Billy Wong, a New York police officer who after the events of an action packed opening gets put with a new partner called Danny Garoni, played by Danny Aiello. The pair attend a party undercover and witness a kidnapping which leaves everyone clueless. Wong and Garoni get assigned to the case and it leads them to Hong Kong, where they realise that the case is much bigger than they thought.
The Protector is a buddy cop movie with an action thriller story. The story isn’t anything to remember, in fact you’ll probably forget it the day after you watch the film. The two main characters Wong and Garoni have a dynamic. Their attitudes are different but despite the differences the pair have, they work well together. The action scenes are the movie’s highlights showcasing Chan being fast and furious and using the environment around him, which is Chan’s trademark. There’s a fight scene between Chan and professional martial artist Bill Wallace, which is thoroughly entertaining and is one of the best parts of the film.
Even though the film was a commercial failure, the film shows Chan’s ability to do a serious role early in his career. It may not be Chan’s best film but it’s a fun film with some good action scenes that should be watched at least once.
- New Police Story
New Police Story is a standalone entry in the Police Story film series. Previous entries in the film series had a lighter tone and a comedic element to them, New Police Story opts for a more emotional and mature story.
Chan plays Inspector Chan Kwok-wing who leads a squad to arrest a gang of criminals. However things don’t go to plan and Chan’s squad is killed, with him being the only one left alive. Chan takes temporary leave and turns to drink as he blames himself for the deaths of his squad. Eventually Inspector Chan does go back and along with his new partner they set out to bring the criminals that killed Chan’s former squad to justice.
Whilst this is a more austere film, there is enough action in this to satisfy fans of Chan who are more used to his action comedy films. The fight scenes are much more grounded in New Police Story, whilst still quick by normal standards, they are slower by Jackie Chan standards. It adds a level of seriousness to the action that helps to add the overall tone of the film.
The acting is superb, Chan delivers a believable and emotional role that you really do feel for and the support cast are just as impressive. The character development here is also done well especially with Chan and the antagonists. Whilst we have already touched upon how Chan delivers on the believability front, the bad guys are well written and you develop a hatred towards them because of what they do.
Fans of the Police Story series may be taken back by how different New Police Story is in tone, when compared to previous instalments. New Police Story features Jackie Chan in a more serious and mature role. Even though the film has a different in tone to previous entries, the film still contains some brilliant fight scenes and choreography. The film isn’t as good as Police Story 1 and 2 but it’s strong enough to stand on its own, thanks to its engaging story.
- Little Big Soldier
Little Big Solider takes place during the Warring States period of China (475 BC – 221 BC). Chan plays an old foot soldier from the state of Liang who is somewhat an expert on playing dead in order to stay alive. He takes part in a violent battle between the states of Liang and Wei (Wey) that left everyone dead except for him, who played dead to avoid actually dying. However whilst looking around the battlefield he found a wounded general from Wei, played by Leehom Wang. The old foot soldier thinks that he could exchange the general back in his home state of Liang, so he can return to a peaceful life instead of being on the battlefield.
The story is fantastic and it is the main focus for Little Big Soldier, which contains a mixture of both serious and light-hearted moments. The foot soldier and the general are constantly at odds with each other. Throughout the film they fight and bicker sometimes for a serious element, other times for a comedic effect. The character development is outstanding in Little Big Soldier, the foot soldier and the general learn about each other and the places they are from, it helps greatly in building up the main characters. You end up caring for both the foot soldier and the general despite the general’s initial arrogant attitude. The characters are well written and they along with its story are truly memorable.
There is action in Little Big Soldier but not a lot of it when compared to a lot of Chan’s other films. Even though there is less action in Little Big Soldier than fans are used to from a Jackie Chan film, it doesn’t harm the film in anyway. What action is present in film is well done and some of it provides comedic relief.
Little Big Soldier is a film with a well written story with great character development. By the end of the film you genuinely care for both characters, especially the foot soldier who has had enough of violence and war and wants to live a peaceful life. It may not be the most action packed film in Jackie Chan’s career but it does have a brilliant and unforgettable story.
Robin-B-Hood is a hilarious movie and is effectively Hong Kong Cinema’s version of Three Men and a Baby. The film stars Jackie Chan and Louis Koo who play Thongs and Octopus who are skilled thieves that have done many successful burglaries. Their mentor called the Landlord, goes to Thongs and Octopus with another job that could earn them enough money to live peacefully for the rest of their lives. Things quickly fall into a state of disequilibrium as the Landlord kidnapped a baby and now Thongs and Octopus have to look after it.
Robin-B-Hood is infectiously funny with a huge amount of heart. The film is funny from start to finish and has some genuinely emotional moments. Some of the circumstances that Thongs and Octopus find themselves with the baby will make you cry with laughter. The film delivers on the comedy front but it also delivers on the action. The fight scenes are your usual Chan affair, fast crazy and featuring inventive ways of using the environment around him.
The main characters Thongs and Octopus are developed well throughout the film and the roles they assign themselves within the film, make the characters more lovable. The story is good and whilst it is primarily a comedy film, it does have its serious moments to give the film more depth and meaning.
Interesting little fact about Robin-B-Hood is that it is one of the few films where Jackie plays an anti-hero. The film is an absolute delight to watch. It has a good story, crazy action scenes and so many funny moments that it will leave you in stitches.
- The Myth
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Jackie Chan starred in an Indiana Jones style movie? The Myth has you covered. Now it doesn’t feature Jackie running away from a boulder or being terrified of snakes but, it does have a grand adventure that will get you hooked right from the beginning.
Chan plays the role of Jack, an archaeologist that often dreams of an ancient Chinese general called Meng Yi and Princess Ok-Soo. Chan heads to India with his friend William and finds out that the people in his dream were actually real. Now armed with new knowledge, Jack is determined to research and find out everything he can about the princess.
The Myth is an Indiana Jones style movie that gives plenty of action and a sense of wonder and bewilderment. The action scenes that take place are fun to watch and the ones in Qin Dynasty China are a spectacle. The fight scenes in the present day are mainly comedic whereas the scenes in the flashbacks are more mature and violent. The difference of tone for the action scenes, help to tell The Myth’s engaging story.
The film’s story grips you from the beginning and it does an excellent job of building up a sense of adventure throughout the duration of the film. There’s an element of fantasy to The Myth, which adds to the film’s fascinating story and sense of adventure. Throughout the film flashbacks to Qin Dynasty China happen, giving more depth to the overall story and developing the characters that were alive in that time period. The Myth’s villain is the weakest part of the movie, he would have greatly benefitted from more character development. The result is a villain who is rather weak and uninteresting.
Despite the film’s poor villain, The Myth is a fun filled journey with an interesting story that grips you from the get go and makes you want to go on the adventure with the characters involved.
- Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow is an old school martial arts flick made way back in 1978. It stars a young Jackie Chan during the early years of his storied film career and this was one of the films that cemented him as a martial arts movie star.
Chien Fu played by Chan is an orphan and was adopted by a Kung Fu school. Fast forward to adulthood and he’s being overworked and bullied by the Kung Fu masters. Chien Fu’s fortunes change as he meets an old beggar called Pai Cheng-Tien, who is a master of the Snake-style kung fu. Pai sees what Chien goes through and sympathises with him and as such teaches him Snake-style kung fu. However Chien doesn’t know that Pai is hiding away from someone who wants kill him.
The movie’s story is pretty good and it’s very easy to follow. Even though the film’s story is a serious tale, there are few comedic moments throughout the film that provide a break from the seriousness of the main narrative. Character development is good, you really do feel for Chien when he gets picked on. The movie does a good job of building Chien up as a hero from the start of the film.
The fight scenes in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow are extremely well done, thanks to near perfect choreography. Every fight in the film is like watching a violent ballet, it’s captivating, engrossing and leaves you in awe.
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’s choreography should be celebrated as it ascends the film from being good, to being legendary and unforgettable. If you want an old school martial arts movie then Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow has you covered and then some.
- Wheels On Meals
Wheels on Meals is a film that stars the iconic trio of, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung and is one of several films that the three actors have done together. Chan and Biao play Thomas and David respectively. The pair are cousins who run a fast food van. Sammo plays Moby, a bumbling private investigator who is suddenly promoted and is tasked to find a young woman.
David’s father is in love with a woman which surprises the pair. Sylvia the daughter of the woman appears and immediately David falls for her. Moby accidently and coincidentally meets up with Sylvia and finds out that some criminals are after her. With Sylvia in danger, Moby, Thomas and David team up to help and protect her.
A lot goes on in the story of Wheels and Meals but it all comes together rather nicely. It’s a good story but the amount of funny moments contained in the movie, make it feel less important in the grand scheme of things. From start to finish, the film is packed to the brim full of comedic moments. You’ll laugh and laugh again until your belly hurts. One funny scene sees the heroes of the story sneak into a psychiatric hospital and Moby is in a straightjacket. They leave him in the van only to have some of the hospital’s patients find him.
The fight scenes are very well choreographed which you’d expect given the talent involved. Whenever Chan, Biao and Hung are together, you are guaranteed excellent choreography and outstanding chemistry. There’s a brilliant fight between Jackie and professional kickboxer and martial artist Benny Urquidez, which is a must watch.
Wheels on Meals is a fantastic film filled with tonnes of comedy and very well done fight scenes. Out of all the films that iconic trio have worked together on, Wheels on Meals is one of the best.
- Police Story: Lockdown
Police Story: Lockdown is another standalone entry into the Police Story film series and much like New Police Story, it’s more of an action thriller than the earlier instalments. Chan plays Detective Zhong Wen a grizzled police veteran with an estranged daughter.
Wen visits his daughter in a club so he can see her new boyfriend however, things quickly go from being alright to bad and from bad to worse. The club’s owner takes the people inside the club hostage along with Wen and his daughter. Wen realises that even though the owner of the club has taken everyone hostage, he has an ulterior motive for doing this.
Much like in New Police Story, the film’s narrative takes centre stage and is the main attraction. Police Story: Lockdown though features a better story than the previous entry as it’s all contained and gets your attention right from the beginning It’s a dark and gripping tale as you see the hostages go through many different emotions such as; pain, anger and sadness. The film does a brilliant job at developing its characters especially when it comes to Wen, his daughter and the owner of the club. The acting by the main cast is superb and Liu Ye who plays the owner of the club, performs the role of a villain exceptionally well.
Don’t worry about there being no action and fighting in the film. The action in the movie is slower and more grounded than the earlier entries into the Police Story film series. It adds to the realism of the fighting as Chan plays an aging detective, so it would make sense that he isn’t as fast as he used to be. There’s one fight scene in the movie that shows off the fighting skill of both actors involved very well and this is thanks to some fantastic choreography.
Police Story: Lockdown is a thoroughly entertaining film with a fantastic story that keeps you on the edge. Chan may have aged but that hasn’t stopped him from kicking ass.
- City Hunter
City Hunter is a comedy film and doesn’t take itself seriously. The film is based off a manga of the same name. Chan plays Ryo Saeba a light hearted private investigator who likes food, sleeping and women
Ryo and his partner Kaori Makimura are given the task to find Shizuko Imumura, the runaway daughter of a Japanese CEO. Ryo finds Shizuko at a skateboard park and an over the top chase on skateboards ensues. Ryo follows Shizuko to a cruise ship but unbeknownst to everyone there’s a terrorist group on board the cruise ship led Colonel MacDonald played by Richard Norton.
Whilst the story is alright, you more than likely won’t be paying much attention to it because of the wackiness that’s going on. On the cruise ship things go from weird and crazy to absolutely insane. A man uses cards as shurikens (seriously that does happen). Ryo has a fight with Kim, one of MacDonald’s henchmen who is played by professional martial artist Gary Daniels. They fight in an arcade and both of them become Street Fighter characters. Daniels becomes Ken and Jackie becomes E. Honda and Chun Li. Seriously though, you have to watch film to fully appreciate the insanity that unfolds.
The action scenes in City Hunter are brilliant and very entertaining. The film does a great job of mixing great choreographed action scenes with absolute craziness. Every action scene in the film has some form of comedic element to it. Whether it be story or action, City Hunter never stops delivering the madness at light speed.
City Hunter is without a doubt, one of Chan’s funniest and most outlandish films in his storied career. If you want to escape from reality and want to watch a funny film, then City Hunter will do the job. You will scratch your head and laugh until your sides hurt. However you’ll never get the image of Jackie Chan dressed as Chun Li out of your head because I haven’t.
- Shinjuku Incident
If there’s any film that shows Chan’s ability to take on a serious role and do an absolutely stellar job, it’s Shinjuku Incident. The film is more of a mature drama and a thriller than an action movie. Whilst the movie does contain some action, it focuses more on its story and character development which are some of the film’s strongest elements.
Chan takes the role of a Chinese mechanic called Steelhead who enters Japan illegally to try and find his lost fiancée. Jie a good friend of Steelhead teaches him the tricks and trades of the underworld so he can survive. As a result, Steelhead and his friends have multiple run-ins with the law and the criminal underworld. To make things even worse, Steelhead’s fiancée is somewhat involved in the criminal underworld thus pushing him further into the world of crime and violence.
Shinjuku Incident’s story is very well written, it’s captivating and intriguing and keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story that keeps the narrative interesting and the audience guessing. The character development is excellent, you really do feel for the characters involved in the story especially Steelhead and Jie. The acting is exceptional, everyone plays their role well, both the main and supporting cast.
As mentioned before Shinjuku Incident does contain some action but compared most of his other films, it’s a lot less. The film is about 90% drama and story and 10% action. The action scenes do take a back seat in this movie in favour of having a dramatic and emotional story. However the action that does take place is well done and suits the tone of the film. You won’t see Chan doing any of his fast paced, over the top combat in this film
Shinjuku Incident is a dramatic thriller with an excellent and compelling story that grips you early on and gets you invested and feeling for the characters involved. If you want to see Jackie Chan in a more grounded and mature role, Shinjuku Incident will show you how versatile an actor Chan really is.
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