Jackie Chan will always be the man, but these days, Jackie Chan is pretty lame. I mean sure, “Jackie Chan Adventures” ruled hard, but all of his more contemporary films are weak CGI filled slop. I haven’t seen “1911”, or really any of his newer Eastern films, so maybe they buck the trend, but it’s gonna take a lot to make up for “The Tuxedo” or the contemptible “Spy Next Door.” I mean you can’t blame him for giving up on the near suicidal stunts that made him a legend; dude’s getting old. But STILL. Thinking about all this has made me want to take a look back at his film legacy, to remember why he was literally all that I cared about in life from ages six to eleven. Let’s take a look at some of the best! Bring plenty of guardrails to hop and chairs to slide into people’s legs ’cause it’s Jackie Chan time, nerds.
5. Rush Hour (1998)
I know a lot of you just went “Man, REALLY?” but you’ll have to bear with me on this one. Yes. I like Rush Hour a lot. I think Chris Tucker and Jackie have for real okay chemistry and I think the stunt work is on par with any of his older films. There’s also a face full of nostalgia for me here because this is the first Jackie Chan film I ever saw. It’s the thing I think of first when I think of Jackie. Also, Chris Tucker is probably the only thing approaching an entertaining co-star in a Jackie Chan movie, so I think that counts for something.
MOST AWESOME JACKIE CHAN MOMENT: When Jackie has to do Kung Fu on a dude and hold up a vase at the same time. Dude appreciates the finer things.
4. Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
Maybe not the best Jackie Chan movie, but undisputably the most important to his career. Bronx was what launched Jackie into Hollywood stardom, and then into my heart. This one might be the most pure, undiluted Jackie action you will see on this list. Jackie is there. Some bad dudes are also there. Jackie does obscene amounts of awesome Kung Fu on the bad dudes until they run away crying. It also has an amusing visual style that can be delicately described as “grinding up the 80’s and snorting it off a copy of Nintendo Power magazine.”
MOST AWESOME JACKIE CHAN MOMENT: When Jackie puts some serious Kung Fu on some dudes in a bar. Notable for being some of Jackie’s best ” rolling around on a chair” work. Do not let this mofo sit down, I tell you what.
3. Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)
Okay, now we’re getting into the classics. This one sticks out for me because it’s the first one that generates a real emotional response. The part where Jackie’s drunk out of his mind and his dad beats the crap out of him was seriously sad to me. It’s the most human Jackie has been in any of his more actiony films. It also scores major points for gratuitous Drunken Master style, which rules supremely hard.
MOST AWESOME JACKIE CHAN MOMENT: Anything with Drunken Master style. So great.
2. Project A (1983)
This one is, I think, the best overall movie. It’s packed with the cheesy slapstick found in every Jackie movie, and has some truly awesome stunt work, but there’s something more. This is a movie where there’s more going on than just “put Jackie in a cool place he can do Kung Fu.” It reminds me a little bit of “Stripes,” but with righteous face kick action, so it’s objectively superior. There’s a focus given to other characters, both in the story lines and in the fight scenes. It also slightly slightly breaks up the classic Jackie Chan pattern of “Jackie gets chased all over by the Bad Guys.” It’s also notable for the most hilariously awful dubbing you’ve ever heard in your life. Worth a watch for that alone.
MOST AWESOME JACKIE CHAN MOMENT: The bar fight around the beginning. Note the attention given to the non-Jackie people. It really helps things feel more… I dunno, Organic.
1. Who Am I (1998)
Project A may be the best movie movie, but Who Am I is definitely the best Jackie Chan movie. If you want the best Jackie Chan action there is, it’s in Who Am I. Fantastic fights, tons of hot chair and guard-rail flipping action, and that benevolent action style that’s totally extinct these days. Jackie goes out of his way to save two random mooks, then he goes on to donate all the villains funds to Save the Children. You ain’t seeing Jason Statham do that biz. It also helps that it has two pretty enjoyable co-stars, and some great driving scenes, including that one parking scene that you always see but never knew where it was from. Who Am I also benefits from being a little slower on the uptake than most other Jackie movies. You don’t get Jackie’s full butt kicking form until well into it, but you’re rewarded with one of the absolute best fight scenes in film history.
MOST AWESOME JACKIE CHAN MOMENT: He runs/slides down the side of a building. No seriously. For being such a huge revenue stream for the Hong Kong film industry, they sure did try hard to get Jackie killed.