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|The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Jackie Chan|
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 29, 2012 Share
Following my graduation from high school, I was unsure as to which direction I wanted to go in life. I had a little bit of money saved up for college but instead of education I decided to spend it. I was reading an old issue of Inside Kung Fu presents Martial Arts Movies (Number 1, 1979) with Jackie Chan on the cover and I was wondering who Jackie Chan was. I was a fanatical Bruce Lee fan and one of the producers of Enter the Dragon, Fred Weintraub, was saying how Jackie Chan was the next big thing and was outselling Bruce in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. It was then that I decided to check out Chan.
I saw an ad in an issue of Blackbelt magazine for Dragon Video. So I decided to buy 4 videos to get an overall perspective that included two early movies, Drunken Master and the Young Master, a recent one, Miracles, and a documentary to fill in the gaps. I knew a lot about Bruce Lee and particularly nothing about Jackie Chan.
The documentary that came from Dragon Video was from a 1988-1989 British TV show called The Incredibly Strange Film Show and was hosted by BBCís Jonathan Ross. The series covered directors from John Waters, Herschell Gordon Lewis, George Romero and Tom Savini, to the famous Mexican wrestler, El Santo and Jackie Chan. The show aired on September 22nd 1989 and to this day is the best documentary I have seen on Jackie Chan. The other documentary I remember watching was part of A & Eís Biography series called Jackie Chan: From Stuntman to Superstar and aired on August 30th, 1996 and was uninspired. It just wasnít interesting or entertaining as The Incredibly Strange Film Show and it didnít have Jonathan Rossís enthusiasm. Ross is a real fan of martial arts movies.
The documentary starts out with host Jonathan Ross on the set of Miracles (1991) watching the movie being filmed with Jackie Chan directing. Next, is Jackie speaking candidly with Ross about all his crazy stunts and near death experiences. In 1986 Jackie Chan made Armour of God that was Chanís take on Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Chan was jumping from a building to a tree and then swinging from a tree branch to land on a nearby wall. The first take went well but Chan insisted on another take, this time the branch broke and he fell and hit his hand on a rock. All his stuntmen were crying, his manager was crying because a piece of his skull broke inward towards his brain. Now he has a hole in his head. Jackie let Ross feel his head where the hole is.
What makes this documentary so good is that it shows his comedic side in early films like Drunken Master, (1978) to his transition away from period Kung Fu movies to modern day action masterpieces like his Police Story series that Sylvester Stallone borrowed from for Tango and Cash. There is his excellent jaw dropping stunt work with Jackie Chan on roller skates on a busy highway, leaping over moving cars and narrowly missing being squelched by a semi from Winners and Sinners.
The Incredibly Strange Film Show also shows how difficult Jackie Chanís early years were as his parents placed him in a Peking Opera School. As Chan explains, he lived at the school and practiced martial arts and gymnastics from 5am to midnight everyday. Also, the contracts states that if a student dies from training it is ok and the school cannot be sued. A good movie that shows what Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biaoís lives were like at the Peking Opera School is Painted Faces (1988.)
Jonathan Ross was extremely lucky because he was invited to Jackie Chanís 35th birthday party that included Chanís Japanese female fans. In fact, the biggest membership for Jackie Chanís Fan Club is in Japan. Lots of Hong Kong celebrities also attended and would have been quite a party. Ross asks the young Japanese ladies sitting at his table a few questions and he gets some amusing answers like the two girls who want to give Jackie their hearts for his birthday present.
Overall, this is the best documentary I have seen on Jackie Chan. At one point I had it on VHS but I must have loaned it out and never got it back, something that happened all too often in the 80ís. However, you can watch the entire show on Youtube for free under Incredible Strange Film Show Jackie Chan. Be sure to check out the other shows that include Russ Meyer and Sam Raimi. All are good and with that happy viewing.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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