Why Jackie Chan is One of the Best Action Directors Out There

Jackie fights off his foes with a ladder.

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Jackie fights off his foes with a ladder.

Michael Finnen, Staff Writer

Jackie Chan; we all know him, and we all love him. Born in Hong Kong, Chan has made a name for himself not only in Asia but largely in North America as well. Why has this man become such a huge face in the acting and directing worlds? This article will explore the many things that make Jackie Chan movies truly unique. Thank you for reading and enjoy!

(The YouTube channel “Every Frame a Painting” has made a very interesting video about Chan’s unique style and goes very in depth. If you are interested, after reading this, I would recommend watching that video as well.)

The first thing which sets Chan apart from many of his contemporaries is that he does his own stunts. Throughout his many movies, Chan has done some very amazing stunts, ranging from falling off of a clock tower through two canopies before hitting the ground and damaging his cervical spine, to sliding down a monumental 21-story skyscraper without even a safety harness. Chan has faced many dangers while doing something seemingly not dangerous: filming a movie. Ironically, in a movie where everything is a stage, Chan has suffered many real injuries performing his own stunts. In the movie Police Story, Chan slid down a pole while hitting lit light bulbs on the way down, before crashing through a glass pane. Chan broke two vertebrae and dislocated his pelvis, also suffering burns from all the lights. These things are what makes Chan one of the best stuntmen ever. He is willing to put his own body through the wringer in order to make the best films that he can. However, actors like Tom Cruise are also famous for doing many of their own stunts, yet, many of Chan’s movies have things that are missing from any Tom Cruise movie.

Not only does he do his own stunts, but Chan is also a master of the fight scene, being able to not only make an engaging fight but also to incorporate comedy into his fights at the same time. It is this ability that cements him as one of the masters. Unlike many western directors, who when a punch or kick lands make a jump cut, before showing the reaction of the character, Chan shows the punch fully collide, which gives his fights a lot more weight and provides a much more engaging and action-packed scene. Many movies use camera trickery to make the fight seem more action-packed, but Chan knows how to fight, and so almost never uses a moving camera. Not only are his fights action-packed, but Chan also fills them to the brim with comedy. He will almost always give himself some sort of handicap, whether it be something simple, like having no shoes, to something extreme, like being handcuffed. This creates not only comedy, but it also makes every win feel earned, as he must overcome not only his enemies but also the handicap. The next part of Chan’s unique style is his unconventional weapons. In almost every fight, Chan will use a miscellaneous item around him in order to fight. This can range from a refrigerator, a chair, a keyboard, or even a ladder. This is where much of his comedy springs, as watching the crazy moves that he makes, with something you would never consider would be used to beat someone up, is very funny. All of Chan’s fights have a certain rhythm to them, making them appealing and easy to watch and follow. Many times, the face that Chan makes is all that is needed to get a laugh. All of these aspects come together to make a truly funny and action-packed fight scene, better than even many of the best action movies out there.