Jackie Chan is one of the most recognizable actors in the world. At 66 years old, the Chinese action star has over 140 credits to his name and continues to make movies with the same verve that made him an international success in his youth. However, there has been a real dearth of American-made films starring Chan in the last few years. Was there a specific reason for this? It turns out that there was and Chan has recently spoken about his choice to focus on Chinese films.
While speaking to Brazilian film site Filmelier, Jackie Chan touched on why he decided not to make as many American movies as he used to. “I want to make sure that every year the audience can see so many different sides of Jackie Chan. I would like audiences to consider me as an actor who can do action, not just as an action star. I don’t like to repeat myself.”
It sounds like Jackie Chan began to feel that a lot of his American film output was becoming repetitive. And he is not wrong. During the peak of his star power in America, Chan became directly recognizable for being a comedic presence in such projects as the Rush Hour franchise with Chris Tucker and movies like Shanghai Noon and The Tuxedo. These were definitely attempts at channeling Chan’s aptitude for blending action and slapstick comedy.
And though these endeavors went far too over-the-top, Jackie Chan’s propensity for action-comedy was one of the things that helped turn him into a superstar. His work on the Police Story trilogy is often seen as a high watermark in the action genre, but he was equally adept in those films when it came to humorous moments. However, it now sounds like the actor does not want to be pigeonholed into just being an action star.
And to be perfectly frank, Jackie Chan just is not capable of doing a lot of the rigorous action that he became so well-known for pulling off on-screen. At 66 years old, it is likely that his body is winding down on the amount of punishment it is willing to take. It makes sense that a lot of American films would continue to ask for a level of physical commitment that Chan just is no longer young enough to endure.
It doesn’t help that Jackie Chan seems to receive a lot of potential scripts from Hollywood, but they all seem to want him to play the same role. Chan says that most of the scripts he gets a chance to read want to cast him as a “Hong Kong policeman.” That was the character type that made him a box office star, but it sounds like he wants to move into more dramatic roles instead of ones that are more motivated by spectacular action sequences.
And who can blame him? Jackie Chan has more than proven his worth as a game-changing force in the action movie landscape. Unfortunately, a lot of his American output did not give him the best opportunity to showcase his dramatic acting skills. His last American film, The Foreigner, gave him a shot at stretching those particular creative muscles, but that movie came and went with very little fanfare. It sounds like Chan has more opportunities to do what he wants with his career over in China.
Hopefully, we will get to see Jackie Chan make one last great American movie before he finally decides to hang it up for good. Even if that doesn’t happen, he has amassed an incredible library of movies that are worth seeking out. Other than the aforementioned Police Story trilogy (which are necessary viewing), there are also the Armour of God movies (known as Operation Condor in the U.S.), the excellent Crime Story, Project A, Rumble in the Bronx, and a number of others that many fans may not be as aware of.
If Jackie Chan has decided to stick with Chinese movies for the remainder of his career, now is a good time to go back and discover some of his best feature films. And keep your fingers crossed that we could see him on an American big screen at least one last time.