Jackie Chan’s Biography

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成龙 / 成龍

For more basic info and a list of his portfolio check out JADEEYES’ post: Jackie Chan’s Profile

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Jackie Chan was born as Chan Kong-sang which literally means “born in Hong Kong.” His mother had to have surgery to deliver him due to the fact that he weighed 12 pounds! Being poor, his parents had to borrow money from friends just to pay the doctor.

Jackie’s parents had steady jobs working at the French embassy stationed in Hong Kong. His father, Charles, was a cook, and his mother, Lee-lee, was a housekeeper. Ever since he was young he’s been practicing kung fu. His father would wake him up early in the morning just to practice. His father believed that by learning kung fu it would help build up Jackie’s character and teach him patience, strength, and courage.

Don’t try to be like Jackie. There is only one Jackie. Study computers instead.

Charles eventually took on a job as the head cook at the American embassy in Australia. Jackie was seven years old, but his father felt it’d be best for him to stay in Hong Kong and enrolled him in the China Drama Academy. For the next 1O years, Jackie lived there.

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The school taught him many things: martial arts, acrobatics, singing, and acting. The purpose of the school was to prepare boys for a life in the Peking Opera. Chinese opera is very different from other types of opera. It not only includes singing, but also tumbling, and requires acrobatics as well as martial arts skills and acting. The academy was very strict and focused hard on discipline – students would be beaten if they disobeyed or made mistakes. Having nowhere else to go, Jackie stayed there. He hardly saw his parents while he was there.

At the age of eight Jackie made his debut at the China Academy. He starred in the Cantonese movie Seven Little Valiant Fighters: Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962). Later on he teamed up with fellow opera students to perform in a group called The Seven Little Fortunes. Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, fellow actors, were also members of the group. Many years later the three of them became known as the Three Brothers and worked together. Jackie worked as a stuntmen when he got older and was even an extra in the Hong Kong film industry.

Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.

At the age of 17 he graduated from the China Drama Academy (1971). By the time he graduated the Chinese opera was no longer popular, so Jackie and his classmates had to look elsewhere for work. This became difficult because of the one important thing the school never taught them – literacy. They were never taught how to read or write. So the only option they had was either unskilled labor or stunt work. Many movies were made each year in Hong Kong, and there was always a need for strong, young stuntmen. Being extraordinarily athletic and incentive, Jackie soon gained a reputation for being fearless. He was willing and would try anything. This helped him to become more well known.

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For the next few years he worked as a stuntmen and an acrobatic. His most memorable work during that time was the 1972 movie Fist of Fury starring superstar Bruce Lee. He recorded the highest fall during that film in Chinese movie history – earning him respect among Bruce Lee himself and many others. Once the movie industry in Hong Kong began to fail it forced him to go to Australia and live with his parents. He worked on at a restaurant and also at a construction site. It was while he was working here that he got his name “Jackie.” There was a worker named Jack who had trouble pronouncing Jackie’s real name – “Kong-sang” – and instead called him “little Jack” which later became “Jackie” and the name just stuck with him.

I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.

Construction work was difficult and boring, and Jackie wasn’t very happy living there. But one day he received a telegram from a man by the name of Willie Chan. Willie worked in the movie industry in Hong Kong and just happened to be looking for a new star in a new movie that was being made by Lo Wei (a famous Hong Kong producer/directer). Jackie called him. Little did he know, but the two of them would not only become his manager, but he’d also become his best friend. At the age of 21 in the year of 1976, Jackie Chan starred in his very first movie: New Fist of Fury.

A lot of people ask me when I do a stunt, ‘Jackie, are you scared?’ Of course I’m scared. I’m not Superman.

As soon as Jackie arrived back in Hong Kong – Willie Chan took control over his career. Even to this day Jackie says that Willie was the key to all of his success. The one problem Jackie did experience was the movies he did for Lo Wei didn’t receive much success. This was because Jackie was unable to show enough of his skills. After he was able to contribute his own ideas he was able to achieve fame. He even brought humor to martial arts movies – his first success was in the movie Snake in Eagle’s Shadow. Another blockbuster hit followed called Drunken Master. Jackie scored his first directing job for the movie Fearless Hyena. All went on to be big hits.

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Although it’d be many years before he would become well known in America – he was becoming a huge success in Asia. Jackie had made an attempt at becoming known in the U.S., but he received many lukewarm receptions (although most was due to miscasting) and he decided to leave the States and focus on making movies in Hong Kong. 1O years later he returned to America to make the movie Rumble in the Bronx which introduced Jackie to American audiences and earned a place in the box office. Following Rumble was Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon – two very popular movies – which earned Jackie’s spot on the Hollywood A List.

In the past when I was in Hollywood, I was like a dog. I felt humiliated. My English was not good. People would even ask me ‘Jackie Who?’

Even though Jackie had become successful in Hollywood, he soon became frustrated because there was a lack of varied roles for Asian actors and he wasn’t able to control certain aspects of the filming like he was able to do in Hong Kong. He tried his best, gave attempts at such movies as The Tuxedo, The Medallion, and Around the World in😯 Days. None of which went on to become anything as big as Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon.

American stuntmen are smart – they think about safety. When they do a jump in a car, they calculate everything: the speed, the distance… But in Hong Kong, we don’t know how to count. Everything we do is a guess. If you’ve got the guts, you do it. All of my stuntmen have gotten hurt.

To this day Jackie still continues to do stunt work and action sequences in his films. Over the more recent years Jackie’s branched out to trying out different genres such as fantasy, drama, and romance. He’s also been spending a lot of time dedicated to his charity work. He’s an Ambassador for UNICEF/UNAIDS very seriously and spends every spare minute working tirelessly for children, the elderly, and those who are in need of help. He still makes films in Hong Kong, including the blockbuster drama New Police Story in 2OO4.

For about 3O years now Jackie has been married to Lin Fen-Jiao (since 1982). They have a son who’s also an actor/singer, Jaycee Chan (born in 1982). If you want to find out more about him you can read his biography, I Am Jackie Chan.

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Other Info:

◊ In 2OO6 he announced that he would donate half of his assets to charity when he dies

◊ Does his own stunts

◊ Doesn’t use the aid of special effects.

◊ Cleverly utilizes everyday items as props in fight scenes (chairs, ladders, lamps, tables, et cetera)

◊ He’s broken just about every bone in his body – including: head, eye, mouth, teeth, throat, neck, arm, shoulder, legs, foot, nose, ears, cheekbone, chin, hand, back, chest, pelvis and knee.

◊ Often has outtakes at the end of his films of failed stunts and other accidents.

◊ Comedy is what sets Jackie Chan apart from other kung fu and action stars.

◊ Charles Chan, Jackie’s father, was a spy for China’s pre-World War II Nationalist government and later on became a member of Shanghai’s organized crime underworld who was forced to flee to Hong Kong after the Communist takeover in mainland China in 1949.

◊ Lee-Lee Chan, Jackie’s mother, used to be a stage performer and occasionally dealt opium and was arrested by Charles as part of his duties, but after her release the two married.

◊Jackie’s nickname as a baby was “Shandong Canon” because of his weight.

◊ Had an uncredited extra role in one of the greatest international action movie, Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973).

◊ Wanted to remake the classic film The Sound of Music

◊ Jackie didn’t reveal his marriage to Lin Feng-Jiao until his autobiography was released in 1998.

◊ Provided dialogue for an animated television series called Jackie Chan Adventures.

In 1991 he was the voice of Beast in the Chinese release of Beauty and the Beast.

◊ Was the voice of Shang in the Chinese release of Disney’s Mulan in 1998. He also did the Chinese version of the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”

Jackie Chan’s official site: http://jackiechan.com/

Jackie Chan’s Kids site: http://www.jackiechankids.com/

I grew up watching Jackie Chan movies, he was known by the time I was born haha (1993). Jackie is one of those stars that everyone has at least heard of and know who he is. I even remember watching Jackie Chan Adventures when I was younger haha. I actually used to love that cartoon. And I loved how for every episode Jackie would show up and I think he’d talk about kung fu and the like. Between movies like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon – they were hilarious! And as I got older and learned that he actually does his own stunts – talk about impressive! This is a man who loves to show the world just what exactly he can do – and to show the most real action. Special effects I find I don’t like seeing as much, so it’s pretty cool that he doesn’t use any of them in his movies, at least not for his stunts. Everything he does looks real because, well, they are. Jackie’s getting up there in age now, so I wonder how much longer he’ll be doing films. Fighting Jackie! (: There really is nobody else like him! –crazy4you

Posted on February 6, 2012, in Actors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.” awesome quote.

    WOW he has done so much. Love it! And great info about his parents, its like watching a Korean drama hahaha… I love that Jackie chose to be an entertainer and not someone in the organize crime. Often children will be what their parents are… not always the case, but often it happens. Its good to read about celebrities and their past, you get inspired. Great post c4u🙂

  2. I love this man! He’s such a goofy, kind-hearted person. He gives off this cheerful/humble vibe, but at the same time you know he could do some serious damage should the need arise. He’s so talented, not only in martial arts, but in acting and singing as well. I have yet to see a movie with him that I didn’t love. I am never disappointed with him. He stays out of the tabloids. You don’t hear about him getting in drunken fights, saying anything horrible, or cheating on anyone. Why? Because he is a gentleman and has a strong sense of morals. It’s very admirable that he does all of his stunts and works so hard to provide people with entertainment and even laughter. How can you not love him? lol I mean look at him, he’s 57 and in great shape (looks like he’s thirty!) and he has accomplished so much. But he doesn’t let it go to his head. He’s continued to be humble and genuine. I admire him and wish I was as good of a person.

  1. Pingback: Jackie Chan’s Profile « The Dramatards

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