I wanted to become a Shaolin monk when I was 12 to 14’ish…
No jokes! I have written about this before, but I would like to take some time and elaborate a bit more.
I’m from a little town in the Ore Mountains in Germany and a bit earlier, if I remember correctly it was when I was 11 years old, I joined the young firefighters in our village. I wanted that so much, that I annoyed everyone so much, that they let me join at age 11, officially it was 12. This little dragon was my idol (an Italian cartoon I just learned).
So I was the kid that at that age told everyone dirty jokes (for real!) and bullied one of my childhood friends a lot. We know laugh about that. Kids are horrible to each other but I think we just wanted that kid to be more like us. At one point we even did one of those make-over shows, without these shows being a thing, where we dragged him to get a haircut and pick ‘cooler’ clothes from his closet and bought him how to ride a bicycle, which ended with him trying on his own, riding down the neighbours driveway, crashing into the neighbour’s kids scooter and landing, breaking his fall with his wrists and two wrists in casts. This guy never really had it easy. I believe months later he came to school with a duck face, before that was a thing, a wasp got him on the upper lip. We had a laugh. Kids are terrible. Shortly after that, we learned how to solder (I actually did not, I believe, because I was in the artsy group, so I learned acting and playing keyboard and stuff, while my friend really liked it when the teacher showed him how to play and touched the back of his head with her bosom – but that is another story) and he tried to cool the thingy blowing air at the iron and someone slightly pushed him, so back was the duck face but different. Oh boy! My dad thought him how to swim, while we annoyed splashed water on him and had a laugh. Man, kids are really terrible.
Let’s get back to the cast(s). There is a man that found himself countless times injured and in said casts. A man that finally got an Oscar he so well deserved, the man that brought me to China. Jackie Chan
ASH’s Kung Fu and the end credits of the fantastic and first big American movie Rumble in the Bronx with a superb soundtrack, a movie that made me fall in love with the idea of living in America (I have never been) and idolise this man even more).
At the age of 13 or maybe 14 there wasn’t a weekend where I didn’t watch one of his movies. Countless times I have rewatched ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ my then favourite movie with him, which is now toppled by the non-aging movie ‘Wheels on Meals’ that came out when I was born. If that isn’t a sign?
Jackie Chan is unfortunately not the idol he is or was to me here in China. He gets flag for some stupid stuff he said in recent years and maybe rightfully so, but you can google that yourself, I want to keep this more on the positive side. Just to name some, he said his son was rightfully imprisoned for weed consumption and possession, he denies one of his daughters I believe, he said stupid things about the US, about Taiwan and was turning his alliance like it suited him, but again, how much of this is really him. I like to think better of him.
So there was I, doing the Snake Kung Fu expressions, dreaming of leaving the village behind and living in the mountains in China where everyone knows how to fight and everything is a bit goofy and weird. A van Damme poster on the door to my room and countless VHS tapes with Jackie Chan movies, every other weekend a VHS rented to devour and practice some of the moves in front of the TV.
The movies are kinetic. You feel every fall, every punch and swift kick has a weight to it and sometimes lands for real. You feel that when you watch most of those movies. It’s entertainment in it’s purest form, it’s fascinating and magical. It’s an art and the danger is real. The stuntman are outstanding and you cringe sometimes watching this. For a good while I was going back to find an older article with the following video, but I wasn’t able to find it, so here it is again, no one made a better list, thanks Angry Video Game Nerd!
I believe this is all you have to see to admire the athleticism and genius that is this man and his team. Maybe while you are at it and you can’t get enough – watch this video by the great Every frame a Painting on what makes Jackie the man of Action Comedies.
After years and years of admiring the movies and eventually moving to China, accidentally I see Jackie Chan in person, 5 meters away outside of Chunking Mansion in Hong Kong promoting a movie and the magic was there again.
Say what you will about his personal life and think what you want to think of him as an actor. I would like to leave you with the following scene that made me cry and hopefully will do the same to you. He is not that good of an actor for it to be staged (I find that insulting if you think it is) and I thank this man for many good hours of my life, all the good that came out of him making movies with this dedication and wish for more people like him: