A Kung-Fu Kingdom exclusive! To celebrate the UK release of Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac (at last!) on DVD and Blu-ray, Jackie made a rare public appearance on these shores.
Trailer for Chinese Zodiac Blu-ray and DVD
Last night Empire magazine hosted a screening of “Chinese Zodiac” at the Prince Charles Cinema in Soho, London, followed by a live question and answer session with the legendary film star. The four hundred-plus tickets for the event had sold out the previous month in less than 10-minutes, a record for the Prince Charles Cinema. On the day of the event, fans arrived at 8am for the 7pm screening to ensure they got a good seat.
The film itself is a hark back to the “golden age” of Jackie’s films in the eighties and nineties, “Chinese Zodiac” being a follow up to 1986’s “Armour of God” and the 1991 sequel, “Operation Condor”. It is always good to get an opportunity to see a Jackie Chan film with an audience, and the modern production values of “Chinese Zodiac” certainly benefit from a big screen presentation. The audience had plenty of “laugh-out-loud” moments and cheered and applauded enthusiastically as the credits rolled.
The biggest cheer of course, was for the main man himself – Jackie Chan. Looking healthy, tanned, and far younger than his sixty years of age, Jackie gave a candid and very entertaining interview. He revealed that “Chinese Zodiac” had been a labour-of-love, and had effectively been six or seven years in the making. When taking breaks from filming “The Forbidden Kingdom” in 2007, Jackie would work on the script for “Chinese Zodiac”. Jackie Chan was awarded two Guinness World Records for the movie – one for performing the most individual stunts in a film, and one for the most credits in a film. He had fifteen credits including Lead Actor, Writer, Director, Producer, Singer, Stunt Performer, Gaffer (electrician), Art Director and Catering Coordinator!
Jackie reassured fans that “Chinese Zodiac” was not his last action film, and he had in fact been misquoted when he was promoting the movie in Cannes. He said, “As long as I can still move, I’ll keep making action movies”.
Introducing Jackie Chan!
The star had only just wrapped on his latest project, “Dragon Blade”, three days before flying in from China. The film co-stars Hollywood actors Adrien Brody and John Cusack. Jackie promised the audience that they are in for a treat when the film is released in early 2015. One fan told Jackie it was his birthday and asked if he would sing “Happy Birthday” to him, which he duly obliged. Explaining that he loved singing, Jackie Chan gave the audience a sneak preview of one of the songs from “Dragon Blade”.
Fan video of Jackie Chan singing
Jackie was asked if he had ever turned down any parts in a Hollywood film. He revealed that none other than Michael Douglas had invited him to play the villain “Sato” in Ridley Scott’s Yakuza-thriller “Black Rain” (1986). Feeling he should try to deliver positive messages to his fans, Jackie said he doesn’t want to play bad guys. Sylvester Stallone had also once wanted him to play a drug dealer in a film with him, but one who comes good in the end. Jackie told Sly, “But he’s STILL a drug dealer in the movie!”, and turned him down.
Jackie first met Stallone in person when he was invited to the set of “Demolition Man” (1993). Jackie is a Sylvester Stallone fan and was in awe of him. Stallone took him to the marquee where all the stunt crew were having lunch, and announced “Look who I brought to see you – Jackie Chan!”. All the stuntmen stood up and bowed to Jackie! When they got back to Stallone’s trailer, Sly ejected the videotape he had been watching and showed Jackie. It was Jackie’s 1985 hit “Police Story”. He told Jackie, “Whenever I run out of ideas, I watch one of your films”!
Stallone asked Jackie to be in “The Expendables 2” and “The Expendables 3” but Jackie doesn’t want to do just a cameo role. He would much prefer a project with Stallone and himself as the leads, and he hoped a script could be worked on to be filmed late in 2015.
The inevitable question was asked, “Will you ever do another film with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao?”. Sammo came to Jackie with an idea last year, but they felt that the script wasn’t right. Jackie expressed his respect for Sammo and love for him as his “Big Brother”. Drawing a big cheer from the crowd, he said of course he will work again with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, “Maybe ‘Wheels on Meals 2’?”. I for one would definitely stand in line for that one!
When asked what his preferred martial arts style was, Jackie reeled off a long list of arts that he had practiced; Northern-style kung fu, Tong Long (Praying Mantis), Bak Mei (White Eyebrow), Karate, Taekwondo, Wing Cun, Hapkido, Boxing, and Judo. He gave up the Judo after three months as he didn’t like getting other people’s smelly sweat all over him! The Bak Mei he took up originally because he wanted to be a nightclub bouncer! Jackie said whenever he is asked what style of martial arts he performs, he always answers, “Chop Suey. Because it has a little bit of everything in it!”.
Rather surprisingly, Jackie revealed that the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman”, starring Richard Gere, had taught him a lot about movie fighting. At the time, Hong Kong films tended to have long and protracted fight scenes, and the audiences would become bored. When Jackie saw “An Officer and a Gentleman”, there was a scene where Richard Gere knocks someone out with one punch, and the whole theatre, including Jackie, cheered. He realised that more important than the action, you must have a good story, even in a fight scene, and in particular for his movies, a message; You shouldn’t fight for the sake of fighting or to be a bully.
As with all good things, the session with Jackie had to end, and he left the stage to a rapturous standing ovation. As he drove away from the venue, he hung out the sunroof of his car, giving fans “high-fives”, as he slowly made his way through London’s Chinatown. Jackie Chan is a genuinely inspirational, generous and entertaining person, who encourages positivity in everyone he meets.
On a personal note for me, I have been very fortunate to have been in his company for the second time in four months, the first time being for his 60th birthday celebrations in China in April. An extra bonus to my evening was a mini reunion with some of the friends that I made on that trip, who travelled from all over England to attend the screening in London. Jackie saw us all in our red “Jackie Chan Peace & Love Tour 2014” jackets that we were given on the China trip. As he made his exit, he pointed to us and exclaimed, “Ahh! It’s you!”.
I hope we can all meet up with Jackie Chan again very soon!