Interviews

Jackie Chan: 59 and still evolving

By Gu FenghuiMovies - 20 December 2013 12:00 AM | Updated 23 December 2013

Jackie Chan: 59 and still evolving

Jackie Chan was all smiles at the 'Police Story 2013 'press conference in Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday. Photo: Zaki Jufri

“I started using stand-ins a long time ago, it’s just that no one ever noticed” said Jackie Chan who is known for doing death-defying stunts.

“I use stand-ins for wide angle walking shots, and for driving shots,” said Chan with a smile.

“But all the action sequences you see on screen are done by me,” assured the martial arts star.

The 59-year-old action star charmed the press audience with his unassuming and humourous personality as he promoted his latest movie, ‘Police Story’, at the Arts Science Museum on 11 December 2013.

EVOLVING WITH HIS MOVIES

In his latest film, Chan plays the role of a mainland detective embroiled in an intricate revenge plot devised by antagonist, Liu Ye.

Set in a Beijing nightclub that becomes a jail for hostages, this movie put Chan in a race against time to get everyone out.

The eighth instalment of the ‘Police Story’ franchise, which started in 1985, Chan departs from his usual action-comedy style, and delves into a more serious and darker tone. 

According to the 59-year-old, “This film focuses a lot more on the story rather than the action.” 

He described his latest movie as an “onion” that reveals bit by bit what is going on.

And, for Chan, the film franchise has evolved with him.

“The detective now has more internal conflicts compared to the first movie.Like me — I went from a single man with nothing to lose to someone with a family to think of,” Chan told inSing. 

In his upcoming films, Chan wants to be seen as an actor above anything else.

“I want people to know me as an actor who happens to be able to fight very well, and not an action star,” he said.

“The careers of action stars are short-lived, and that is not the path I want to take.”

DRAWING ON LIFE EXPERIENCE

In ‘Police Story’, Chan has an estranged relationship with his daughter, played by Jing Tian.

Because he was a father who was constantly away, his daughter holds a grudge against him and he is guilt ridden.Playing the part of a father struggling to communicate with his daughter was not difficult for Chan.

“When I saw Jing Tian in her Goth get up, tattoos and smoking a cigarette, it was as though I was looking at Fang Zu Ming (his son, Jaycee Chan Jo-ming). The emotions just came pouring out from there,” said Chan. 

As his character on-screen tries to impress and connect his daughter, Chan does the same in real life.

In a particularly challenging scene where he has to free his hands while being bound to a chair by wires, Chan drew on his son for motivation. “I wanted to show my son that I still had it in me, and how anything is possible as long as you try,” he said. 

The feat was difficult, but Chan persisted.He twisted and turned his wrists until they were all bloodied. 

“After I completed the scene, I gave my son a nonchalant look like I was all right, even though I was really hurting. The director told me after that Zu Ming had his mouth wide open the entire time.”

NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN

Just a year short of 60, Chan shows no signs of slowing down.

“If I don’t act, I wouldn’t know what else to do. In my waking moments, I am constantly thinking of ideas and what I want to do next,” he said.

His dedication follows him everywhere he goes.Upon entering the Art Science museum, for instance, he busily surveyed the place to see if it could be used in an action movie.

“Everywhere I go I look for places that are high enough to jump off from, or things to blow up. This is my occupational hazard,” Chan said, eliciting laughs from the audience.

 But while he may still have the drive of a 20 year-old teen, Chan is more cautious as age catches up with him.

“Now that I am getting older, I fear every time I do a stunt that I will end up in the wheelchair for the rest of my life,” said Chan.“In the past, I would test out a stunt, now I get a younger person to do it.” 

PASSION FOR ‘REAL’ ACTION

Chan’s tenacity is driven by the passion he has for action movies, which he distinguishes from those made using special effects. While he respects the technology behind special effects, what he really wants to showcase to the world is the prowess of Chinese martial arts.

Chan remarked in all candour: “The Chinese movie market will never be able to keep up with America’s in terms of technology, so we should just stick to what we are good at. With out niche, we can surpass them.”

In the coming years, he wants to train up more people who are able to fight and act.“One Zhang Ziyi or Jing Tian is not enough, we need an entire team to be competent,” he said.

‘Police Story 2013’ opens in cinemas 24 December