Born April 7, 1954
Jackie Chan was born in Hong Kong on April 7, 1954 under his real name of Chan Kwong-Sang (which means born in Hong kong). After his birth, his parents were so poor that they tried to sell him to the British doctor who delivered him for a meager $26, luckily the doctor refused.
Eventually, his parents (his dad was a chef, his mum, a housekeeper) found jobs in Australia so the whole family moved there. In 1961, Jackie, who was only 7 years old at this time, returned to Hong Kong to enrol himself in the Chinese Opera Research Institute for the next 10 years to learn dancing, singing, miming, acting and martial arts. At the Institute, Jackie worked very hard, it was normal for them to work from 6 a.m. to midnight. That’s an 18-hour day, and Jackie was only 7 years old!
In 1971, Jackie finally graduated from the Institute. He returned to Australia and worked as a dishwasher and bricklayer... he didn’t want to do that all his life, so he went back to Hong Kong and adopted a studio name: Chen Yuan Long. He got a job at the Shaw Brothers Studios as a stunt man, fighter and more. Then he got his first real acting debut in Little Tiger from Canton. In 1972, the Hong Kong movie industry noticed him when he successfully performed one of the greatest stunts of the 70s. In Fist of Fury, a Bruce Lee international hit, he served as stunt double for Bad Mr. Suzuki and executed the longest stunt fall ever attempted in Asian Cinema. Jackie’s dream, at this time, was to become a stunt coordinator or martial arts director. In 1976, he starred in 6 kung fu flicks for the late Lo Wei who saw Jackie as the next Bruce Lee. Sadly, they were all bad and didn’t do well at the box-office. The only great thing Lo Wei did for Jackie was to give him an English name: Jackie Chan. In 1977, Jackie starred in the kung fu parody Half a Loaf of Kung Fu. That movie wasn’t a hit, but it was the first funny Jackie Chan movie. It was a new style for Hong Kong Cinema, Kung Fu and humor, together? His next movie was Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978) his first hit! In 1978, Chan appeared in Drunken Master. This movie catapulted him to stardom. That movie made more than one million dollars (US) locally in Hong Kong and finished second at the box-office and broke records in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.
Jackie tried to break the US market and starred in The Big Brawl and Cannonball Run. In 1985, Jackie starred in The Protector. After his US flops, he returned to Hong Kong to concentrate on the Asian market. In 1983, he directed and performed in one of his greatest movie: Project A. This movie is very special because it also starred Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, Jackie’s life-long friends. In 1985, Jackie, again, directed and starred in Police Story, aka Jackie Chan’s Police Force which screened at the New York Film Festival and won the Best Picture award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. A year later, Jackie directed-acted in Armour of God. On the set, Jackie was badly hurt and almost got killed while performing a relatively easy and routine stunt. This accident kept Jackie out of business for nearly 6 months. In 1987 he formed his own production company, Golden Way. But in 1989, Hollywood gave a him a big chance, they wanted Jackie to star next to Michael Douglas in Black Rain. But Jackie turned down the role as had to play the villain and he considers himself a role model for kids.
In 1994, Drunken Master II is released considered by many to be the best Jackie Chan movie ever, the stunts were incredible.
However in 1996, New Line decided to give the Americans another chance to discover Jackie Chan. To do so, they badly dubbed Rumble in the Bronx (Jackie dubbed himself, but the other people were dubbed by strangers) and released it on 1500 silver screens across the States. February 10th, 1996 was Jackie’s big day. In order to promote the movie, he went to the Late Show and kicked some bottles, talked to hundreds of reporters, made the cover of People magazine and numerous others. Rumble was a big hit and made more than 10 million dollars during its opening week-end and went on to receive more than 32 million dollars being the most profitable movie of 1996. The success of Rumble in the Bronx led to the action film Rush Hour which co-starred Chris Rucker a huge box office hit in the US grossing 130 million in the States alone, cementing Chan as a bankable superstar. He followed up that success with Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Nights, Rush Hour 2 amongst others and is currently filming Shinijuku Incident which is due for release in Spetember 2008.
Jackie performs most of his own stunts which are choreographed by the Jackie Chan Stunt team, he has been injured numerous times and many of them are shown as outtakes or bloopers during the closing credits.