Jackie stands at the edge of the towering building, his heart pounding with anticipation. He is about to perform a death-defying stunt for his latest blockbuster movie. The cameras are rolling, and the entire film crew holds their breath in excitement. This is what he lives for—the adrenaline, the challenge, and the chance to create something extraordinary.
With a deep breath, Jackie leaps off the building, defying gravity as he soars through the air. Time seems to slow down as he executes a flip and slides down a rooftop.
As Jackie lands safely on the top of a moving truck. The satisfaction of nailing the stunt fills his veins, reminding him why he has dedicated his life to this craft. But there is no time to rest, the movie demands more. He swings himself into the front seat of the truck and continues a thrilling car chase through a narrow alleyway the final climactic fight scene against his most dangerous enemy.
With unwavering determination, Jackie embraces each challenge, pushing himself to the limit. He throws himself into fight scenes with unmatched energy, combining his martial arts skills with a touch of humor that makes audiences fall in love with him. Every punch, every kick is meticulously executed, leaving no room for error.
Being Jackie Chan in a blockbuster movie means embracing fear, defying gravity, and giving everything for the sake of entertainment. It is a journey filled with adrenaline, skill, and an unwavering dedication to creating movie magic. And for Jackie, there is no greater reward than seeing his hard work and breathtaking stunts come to life on the big screen, inspiring generations to chase their dreams, just as he has.
Kong-sang Chan, later known as Jackie Chan, was born on April 7, 1954, in Hong Kong, China to Charles and Lee-Lee. At the time his parents were a cook and a housekeeper. They were poor at the time and worked for a French diplomat and lived in a small house in the back of his house. From a young age, Kong-sang’s father taught him to exercise and practice martial arts. Kung Fu was the popular martial arts style where he lived and used lots of kicks and acrobatic movements. Because they were poor, Kong-sang and his father had to find simple ways to exercise rather than going to a typical dojo.
Kong-sang struggled in school. He didn’t like to sit still and often got in trouble when he got restless. He often got into fights in his neighborhood and at school. Instead, he wanted to be outside and play which is natural for children! Fortunately, Kong-sang’s parents were attentive to his needs and started looking at other options for his school. They found a nearby school called The Chinese Drama Academy, which prepared students for Chinese opera and might be a good fit for a more active child like Kong-sang.
Kong-sang was surprised when he visited the school. Rather than sitting at desks and doing traditional school work, children at this school were doing kung fu and dancing around during the day. Kong-sang thought it looked like a pretty good school and his parents decided to enroll him for ten years! Little did Kong-sang know, what a challenge the Chinese Drama Academy would be! The masters of the school were very strict. Some of the kids made fun of him. He had to sleep on the floor at night and during the day they worked his body very hard. Every minute of the day they were busy running, kicking, punching, doing handstands, and cleaning. When students misbehaved, they got hit with a stick. And to Kong-sang’s surprise, he still had to do schoolwork on top of it all!
Kong-sang missed his parents and only saw his mother once a week. Life at the Chinese Drama Academy was very hard, but he was determined to stick it out. When he saw other children performing on stage and being applauded, he wanted to work hard, be just like them, and get the same attention. Eventually, he got to perform on a stage and received his first role in a film called Big and Little Wong Tin Bar.
By the time Kong-sang graduated from The Chinese Drama Academy, the opera wasn’t as popular so he knew his best would be to find a job in the movie industry. He auditioned to be a stuntman and got his first job. A stuntman is used in movies to do the dangerous work that actors avoid so they don’t get hurt. They might jump out of moving cars, off tall buildings, or take a punch to make the action look more realistic. Over time, Kong-sang got better and better at being a stuntman, but his real dream was to be a movie star not just someone who did the difficult work but that no one recognized. His next job was a stunt coordinator who helped direct all of the stunts.
Finally, he got his first chance and was given a small role in a movie called Hand of Death. It wasn’t a big role, but it gave him hope that someday he might be a big star. He dreamed that he might be as popular as Bruce Lee, the most famous Chinese kung fu movie star. Unfortunately, movies weren’t as popular at that time in China and Kong-sang had to move to Australia where his parents now lived. He worked many different jobs to support himself. At one job, instead of using his real name, he introduced Kong-sang as “Jack.” His co-workers started calling him “Jackie.”
Around this time – we’ll call him Jackie now – got a message from Hong Kong asking him to come back and star in a new movie, a remake of Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury. He would be paid well and best of all, he’d be a star and be acting! Jackie hurried back to Hong Kong and starred in the new movie. Jackie had all of the moves and could do all of the stunts, but he was different than Bruce Lee. He liked being funnier rather than serious. At this time, he wrote his own movie and starred in it. It was called Half a Load of Kung Fu. Rather than trying to be just like Bruce Lee, Jackie wanted to be his own kind of action hero: a funny one who the audience would be impressed by but also laugh at.
Jackie Chan’s first big movie using his own style was Snake in Eagle’s Shadow about a kung fu student who is better than his own master and learns his moves from an old man on the street. The movie was a huge hit! Jackie was happy to know audiences enjoyed his funny action-hero persona. Drunken Master was his next big hit turned him into a popular movie star all over China.
Jackie’s next job took him to the United States, to film a new movie in Texas. Unfortunately, Jackie struggled with English and didn’t feel as comfortable acting because of the language and the style that which U.S. films were shot. Next, he returned to Hong Kong and was able to continue his acting as a celebrity there.
In Hong Kong, Jackie continued acting and doing dangerous stunts. It was one of his favorite parts of the job even though it was very dangerous. During one stunt he fell from a 50-foot-tall clock tower, through two cloth awnings, and to the ground. Another time, he slid down a 21-story building. A few times he was hurt very badly, but Jackie continued acting and doing stunts because it was his passion and he didn’t care about the risks.
In 1995, Jackie took another shot at filming in Hollywood and his first breakout American film was Rumble in the Bronx. He did some dangerous stunts and plenty of kung fu, and the film became a big hit. His next big film was a buddy-cop movie starring alongside comedian Chris Tucker. The name of the film was Rush Hour and ended up being a huge hit earning over $140 million dollars. Jackie was finally a star in the United States as well as Asia.
For the next several years, Jackie continued to film hits in Hollywood including a second and third Rush Hour movies, Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights with Owen Wilson, The Tuxedo, Around the World in 80 Days, a new Karate Kid film, and also did the voice for Master Monkey in Kung Fu Panda.
Later, he also started a stunt school for aspiring young actors and started his own coffee shops, restaurants, theaters, clothing lines, and other businesses across Asia.
Not only has Jackie become known for his acting, kung fu, and stunts, but also for his charitable donations around the world. He’s taken his success and with gratitude used it to help others in need, which includes building schools and curing illnesses.
Like Jackie, you can remember the importance of physical exercise. Even when Jackie was poor and didn’t have access to a real gym or sports clubs, he ran through the neighborhoods near his home, used heavy objects to strengthen his muscles, kicked, and practiced his acrobatics. You can work through hard things even when they are difficult and continue to practice whatever it is you are passionate about. Jackie of often turned to humor when life was hard and even though everyone wanted him to be like Bruce Lee, he found his own way in the world, a unique way of acting that he made his own.
Take a moment and think about how you can apply what you’ve learned about Jackie Chan to your own life.
Jackie once said, “If everyone does some good, think of what a good world this will be.”
When asked how he accomplished great things, Jackie said, “I do small things. I try to do good things every day.”
And finally, “Do not let circumstances control you. You [can] change your circumstances.”