Thumbs up for Jackie Chan: 7 action flicks starring the one and only
Having started his film career as a child actor in the 60s, Jackie Chan has racked up more than 150 films. Born as Chan Kong-sang, he became known as Little Jack working on a construction site. The nickname later became Jackie, which stuck as his screen name.
Known for his martial arts, humorous action choreography, performing his own stunts and his Buster Keaton-style clown comedy, Chan has become an entertainment powerhouse. Having worked with Bruce Lee, John Woo and been referenced extensively in songs, cartoons, films and video games, he’s part of our pop culture stratosphere.
Here are seven kick-ass Jackie Chan movies now available to stream.
Famous in the East with a kung fu following worldwide, Chan didn’t develop a mainstream appeal to Western audiences until films like Rumble in the Bronx. Having been the star of Crime Story and Supercop, it was the entertaining kung fu classic The Legend of Drunken Master that catapulted Jackie into superstardom.
Chan hates playing villains and loves giving the thumbs up. He’s a lovable goofball on screen, a self-deprecating nice guy who thrives in the arena of action comedy. Rumble in the Bronx is a perfect showcase for his trademark kung fu and comic timing. Attending his uncle’s wedding in New York, his character inadvertently becomes the family supermarket’s guardian when a gang starts a turf war with the one-man-army.
This cartoonish, colourful, energetic and intense take-it-to-the-streets actioner has similarities with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. While the action and stunts are the main feature, it’s a whirlwind of entertainment that constantly upscales from thugs to special agents and from decimating apartment blocks to a runaway hovercraft.
Re-teaming with his Rumble in the Bronx posse after a successful outing, Chan decided to upscale his action movies to the level of a Bond film with the fourth instalment of his Police Story series. In Jackie Chan’s First Strike he plays a Hong Kong inspector who’s seconded by a Russian organisation on an international assignment to locate a missing nuclear warhead.
From bitterly cold action set pieces involving henchmen on snow patrol to combatting hordes of fighters armed with nothing but a ladder, First Strike always manages to find the fun. While Chan’s kung fu moves are kept under wraps at first, he demonstrates his graceful agility when it comes to escape, before unleashing unbelievable and imaginative group fight scenes.
Whether he’s dressed as a penguin or buck naked with nowhere to turn, Chan’s never far from funny. Outmanoeuvring giant tough guys before humiliating them, First Strike adds a number of signature touches to a globe-trotting action comedy with an outlandish plot that doesn’t actually matter.
The kung fu master has become a superstar with enough clout to command top billing but his one challenge has always been English and elocution. While he’s dubbed many of his own films, remembering lines and then trying to deliver them in front of a camera is hard enough in a first language!
Rush Hour pairs the action star’s kung fu skills with Chris Tucker’s motormouth. Taking on the classic buddy-cop movie formula, Chan’s put in charge of kicking ass as the silent professional while Tucker fills the air with his loud personality and trademark hilarity. When they’re assigned to retrieve a Chinese consul’s daughter after she’s kidnapped, the odd couple quickly discover they could learn something from each other.
This is what makes Rush Hour such a joy! The Chan/Tucker duo generate entertaining on-screen chemistry through their culture clash and East vs West work attitude. Through trial and error, it’s not long before they discover the win in their yin-yang dynamic. Stick around for the flubbing funny blooper reel!
Rush Hour was buddy-cop action-comedy heaven, giving the tired genre a fresh spin with an East meets West culture clash and two unlikely partners. The same co-lead dynamic was replicated with Chan playing opposite Owen Wilson’s gift of the gab in the western comedy, Shanghai Noon. Based on the popcorn fun of Rush Hour, there had to be a sequel, which naturally made sense to give Chris Tucker’s Carter a chance to be “the tourist”.
Relocating to Hong Kong, the now famous friends are on vacation when they become embroiled in a case involving counterfeit money after two men are killed at the American Embassy. After the novelty and magic of Rush Hour, the sequel captures the culture shock comedy of the original with much more wink-wink fun. From Tucker’s smooth dance moves to Chan’s playful charm, Rush Hour 2 delivers more of the same action and comedy … but in China.
Playing off Tucker’s unflappable nerve and Chan’s deadpan delivery, this fun, entertaining sequel is geared towards maximum enjoyment. It may be a rinse-and-repeat but serves as a worthy follow-up to the kick-ass “kung fun” of the original.
The Tuxedo (2002) – Netflix
Chan was considered for the role of Cato in the Steve Martin reboot of The Pink Panther. While the part fell away altogether, the casting call was probably inspired by The Tuxedo. As a streetwise taxi driver turned chauffeur to a millionaire, we get to see Chan grow into his role as the would-be hero. Using a computerised tuxedo that gives its wearer special abilities, Jimmy accepts a dangerous mission before teaming up with Del, an inexperienced agent played by Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
Masking Chan’s pre-existing agility, dexterity and fight moves, this spy action comedy made him an obvious choice and glaring inside joke to fans. Moving from being an awkward guy with a soul patch and Hooters T-shirt to the realm of espionage is a gag that keeps on giving. With the role playing to his strengths as the unpretentious yet brilliant clown warrior, he’s out of his depth and in his element.
The plot involving an evil water bottling company is laughable and ridiculously silly but The Tuxedo moves at such a jaunt, peppering the story with so much wildly entertaining action and spy gadgetry, it hardly matters.
Switching things up by changing cities seems to be one of the easiest (or laziest) ways to refresh a sequel. Now that Lee and Carter have got the t-shirt for Los Angeles and Hong Kong, it had to be London or Paris. Now that the bromance is official-official, it seems only natural that they chose Paris. One of the worst places to experience rush hour if you watch Luc Besson films, it’s also one of the best spots for stylish action.
Travelling to France to protect a witness from the Chinese triads, the dream team resort to boudoir-style action comedy and stylish suits. Now onto Part 3, they’re almost ready to kick down the fourth wall with their over-the-top mix of entertainment. How many times can an LAPD and Hong Kong detective find a reason to team up? As long as the lovable characters keep activating belly laughs and over-the-top action sequences, who cares?
They may be running out of iconic capital cities to gatecrash but are still brandishing the kind of feel-good fun and enjoyable hi-jinx that’s worth repeating. It’d almost be weird if Lee and Carter didn’t eventually find themselves battling villains at the Eiffel Tower, right?
Jackie Chan is The Foreigner. Having played a number of fish-out-of-water characters where culture clashes lead to comedy, The Foreigner sees Chan in one of his rare dramatic performances. Known for his trademark action comedy, the role reversal makes Martin Campbell’s action thriller so refreshing. Chan plays Quan, a businessman who’s pushed to the edge, when he loses the last person he loves to a senseless act of terrorism.
While Chan’s almost invincible, there’s a reason he was cast as Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid reboot. Now in his 60s, the action star proves he’s still got it in this Taken-style thriller. Using his weathered first impression to foil his identity, he begins a vengeance-fuelled rampage through the guts of the organisation responsible for his daughter’s death. A cold-blooded and explosive action thriller, The Foreigner showcases Chan’s dramatic ability opposite an equally committed Pierce Brosnan.