Jackie Chan was born Chan Kong-sang on April 7, 1954, in Hong Kong, China. He began studying martial arts, drama, acrobatics, and singing at age 7. Once considered a likely successor to Bruce Lee in Hong Kong cinema, Chan instead developed his own style of martial arts blended with screwball physical comedy. He became a huge star throughout Asia and went on to have hits in the U.S. as well.
Actor, director, producer. Born April 7, 1954, in Hong Kong, China. When his parents moved to Australia to find new jobs, the 7-year-old Chan was left behind to study at the Chinese Opera Research Institute, a Hong Kong boarding school. For the next 10 years, Chan studied martial arts, drama, acrobatics, and singing, and was subjected to stringent discipline, including corporal punishment for poor performance. He appeared in his first film, the Cantonese feature Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962), when he was only 8, and went on to appear in a number of musical films.
After Lee’s tragic, unexpected death in 1973, Chan was singled out as a likely successor of his mantle as the king of Hong Kong cinema. To that end, he starred in a string of kung fu movies with Lo Wei, a producer, and director who had worked with Lee. Most were unsuccessful, and the collaboration ended in the late 1970s. By that time, Chan had decided that he wanted to break out of the Lee mold and create his own image. Blending his martial arts abilities with impressive nerve—he insisted on performing all of his own stunts—and a sense of screwball physical comedy reminiscent of one of his idols, Buster Keaton, Chan found his own formula for cinematic gold.
A year after the release of his first bona fide hit, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978), Chan took the Hong Kong film world by storm with his first so-called “kung fu comedy,” the now-classic Drunken Master (1978). Subsequent hits such as The Fearless Hyena (1979), Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1980) and The Young Master (1980) confirmed Chan’s star status; the latter film marked his first with Golden Harvest, Lee’s old production company and the leading film studio in Hong Kong. Before long, Chan had become the highest-paid actor in Hong Kong and a huge international star throughout Asia.
In the early 1980s, Chan tried his luck in Hollywood, with little success. He starred in the Golden Harvest-produced The Big Brawl (1980), which flopped. He also had small supporting roles opposite Burt Reynolds in the ensemble comedy The Cannonball Run (1982) and its 1984 sequel.
Back in Hong Kong, Chan’s star continued to rise. He produced impressive action comedies such as Project A (1983), Police Story (1985) and Armor of God (1986), as well as the hit period film Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989), a clever remake of Frank Capra’s 1961 film A Pocketful of Miracles.
By that time, Chan was far more than a movie star—he was a one-man film industry. In 1986, he formed his own production company, Golden Way. He also founded a modeling/casting agency, Jackie’s Angels, in order to recruit talent for his films. Additionally, after numerous stuntmen were injured during the filming of Police Story, the actor founded the Jackie Chan Stuntmen Association, through which he personally trained and provided medical coverage for its members. For his part, Chan claims to have broken every bone in his body at least once while performing stunts. In 1986, during the filming of Armor of God, he fractured his skull after falling more than 40 feet while attempting to jump from the top of a building to a tree branch below.
In 1995, Chan created his own comic book character, the central figure in Jackie Chan’s Spartan X, a series that hit newsstands in both Asia and the U.S. That same year, newly anointed directing sensation Quentin Tarantino, fresh off the success of Pulp Fiction (1994), presented Chan with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards (Tarantino reportedly threatened to boycott the ceremony if Chan did not receive the award).
In 1996, New Line Cinema and Golden Harvest jointly released Rumble in the Bronx, Chan’s fifth English-language (dubbed) release but his first hit in America. The film grossed $10 million in its first weekend, shooting to No. 1 at the box office, and its success prompted the American debuts of two previous Chan films, Crime Story and Drunken Master II.
After two less successful efforts, Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1997) and Mr. Nice Guy(1998), Chan scored another box-office hit with Rush Hour (also 1998), an American-produced action comedy. In Rush Hour, Chan employed his English-language skills as a Chinese police officer alongside a streetwise Los Angeles cop, played by the rising comedian Chris Tucker. In 2000, Chan starred in Shanghai Noon, another action comedy that was set in the Old West and co-starred Owen Wilson and Lucy Liu.
The following summer, Chan reteamed with Tucker for the sequel Rush Hour 2, for which the action star earned a hefty $15 million plus a percentage of the record-breaking box-office haul. In 2002, Chan co-starred with Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Tuxedo, a comedy about a taxi driver who receives special powers when he puts on his boss’s tux. That same year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was honored with the Taurus Award for best action movie star at the World Stunt Awards.
Chan followed with another moderately successful sequel, Shanghai Knights (2003), but The Medallion (2003) and the adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days (2004) both flopped. Seeking greater financial and artistic control over his films, he co-founded JCE Movies Limited in 2004, through which he produced successful Hong Kong flicks New Police Story (2004), The Myth (2005) and Rob-B-Hood (2006).
• Prior to marrying each other, both of his parents had children that they were forced to abandon amid the Chinese Civil War and World War II.
• Father’s true family name is Fang, and his parents adopted his mother’s family name, Chan, to protect themselves from the new Communist government. His parents were reunited with their lost children through research for the documentary Traces of a Dragon: Jackie Chan and His Lost Family.
• Attended the strict China Drama Academy from age 7 to 17. Students were instructed in acting, singing, martial arts and acrobatics.
• Received the nickname “Jackie” from a coworker while working construction in Australia.
• Performs virtually all of his own stunts and has hurt himself countless times on film shoots. He has a permanent hole in his skull from one such injury.
• Very active for various charities and is a UNICEF Ambassador.
• 2011, People’s Choice Awards — Favorite Action Star: Winner
• 2016, Oscar — Honorary Award: Winner
• 2005, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Editing: Nominee
• 1990, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Foreign Film: Nominee
1 “I’m good for some things, bad for a lot of things.”
2 “I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.”
3 “Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.”
4 “I do small things. I try to do good things every day. If everyone does some good, think of what a good world this will be.”
5 “The ads all call me fearless, but that’s just publicity. Anyone who thinks I’m not scared out of my mind whenever I do one of my stunts is crazier than I am.”
6 “Now I am older, I understand we have to accept who we are.”
7 “I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid.”
8 “Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”
9 “The best fights are the ones we avoid.”
10 “Family is not who’s blood is in you, it’s who you love and who loves you”