It’s worth noting that director Sheng Ding’s 2012 production of Police Story: Lockdown – which I first caught at Screen Anarchy when readers first knew of it as Twitchfilm – that inspired me to get a leg in the blogging business with the launch of Film Combat Syndicate, roughly eight years after I first experimented with the hobby on a free hosting site that existed at the time.
Alas, I partially credit Chan with much gratitude to being the inspiration he was to me at the time, as he continues his footing in the film business. While his fame in Hong Kong SAR has waned over the years, he remains a legend to fans around the world, especially here in the states long after leaving his footprint with titles like Battle Creek Brawl and The Protector, and ultimately channeling his Golden Harvest roots to pave the way for his signature style of action with the explosive Rumble In The Bronx out of New Line Cinema.
Ultimately it was this film that drew my eyes to the classics in the Asian cinema isle of my local VHS outlet, and evidently the online niche sites where fans galvanized to browse or possibly load up on DVDs from sites like HKFlix or YesAsia. As it stands though, the first classic Chan film I remember seeing was a bootleg VHS print of Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow that a friend of my father’s loaned us, and I couldn’t get enough of it – it’s action, comedy, and not least, its relatability as a film about an underdog who learns how to become better at kung fu in lieu of facing an even deadlier enemy. This was before I was exposed to the addictive DVD market where I couldn’t stop obsessing over the movies I wanted, even so beyond Chan’s. I’ve seen some of the classics so far, including his debut lead in New Fists Of Fury which less so exudes the preferred tone and style of his remaining work.
The Legend Of Drunken Master (a.k.a. Drunken Master 2) was a great catch as well, as much as I detested TWC, Miramax and Dimension for claiming U.S. rights to titles I tried to import for my own collections. I also remember Rush Hour generating some of the biggest buzz as well during those years – mainly the first two films. I can’t remember if I saw the first one in the theater or not, but I definitely remember the laughs had and the screams that were scrumpt for the sequel crowd. The Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker duo had us all in stitches.
I hadn’t seen any new Chan films after the third Rush Hour and most of Chan’s Hollywood work, and that was mostly due to access and lack of funds. When I watched CZ12 for the first time several years after its release, it was pretty disappointing, and even served as a founding anchor to critique Chan’s films more as I grew in my own fandom while fans continued to celebrate his career, drawing crowds to buy books about his life. Our own Mike Garcia has read Chan’s 1998 autobiography, “I Am Jackie Chan”, so I’m hoping one day he’ll get around to sharing his thoughts on it at some point whenever he can.
There’s no question I’m a Chan fan, with plenty reason to share in the ceremony of his career. Some of his recent work have been let downs, and I think much of that speaks to the very angle he so normally chooses with a lot of his films. The cheesy romance, damsels in distress, seat-filler characters who don’t bring much to the table, and all with Chan front and center to carry the marketable substance of the product he’s pitching. Dragon Blade was a decent enough assembly, which is more than I can say for Skiptrace and Kung Fu Yoga, the latter upon second and third viewing, and the more I reflect on not having yet seen The Myth, the more I’m reminded of the bad reviews it got which only deter me further.
To date, The Foreigner stands as one of Chan’s recent bests in memory, playing a desperate father plying his trade as an ex-soldier on a mission to avenge his daughter’s death against an IRA terroristic uprising being led by a shadowy politician played by Pierce Brosnan. I’m further hoping for something memorable when the John Cena co-starring Project: X-Traction starts getting some traction, and only time will tell when that happens – I know about as much as most of you at this stage.
Indeed, the week has been a poignant one as well. Fans and colleagues are mourning the departure of one legend already following film star Jimmy Wang Yu’s passing on Tuesday, so to get to celebrate the birthday of a living and concurrent film star still working today certainly lifts some spirits.
Chan’s cut his teeth well in the field and has the scars and documentaries to prove it, and has surely experienced his share of imperfect moments in his personal life, as has been documented in books and articles covering Chan. He’s been there and back, there again, and still there, regardless of any talk of retirement until he actually does so, and for all this and more, for opening doors and opening our eyes to the extenuating talent roster in action cinema outside the Western world, we all at @FCSyndicate wish one of the “Seven Little Fortunes” himself, Sing Lung, a happy 68th birthday.