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The Jackie Chan Movie for YOU

Jackie Chan's massive backlog is a great well to draw on for comfort movies. They're all easy to understand, quick, and impressive, if sometimes only for the one thing that binds them together: Jackie himself. A martial arts master with comic sensibilities for charm and timing akin to the great silent stars, whether he's caught in a subpar production or not, you can always count on Jackie to bring it. Before you switch on one of his films, you know he'll be the underdog, a little out of his depth, forced to think on his feet, often not sticking the landing, but in the end, he'll kick ass in an explosive finish. It's a formula that's never really gotten stale, thanks to Chan and his collaborators' ceaseless imagination, always finding ways to top themselves, but, due to this blanket quality, most people probably end up seeing whatever Jackie Chan movie they come across, channel-surfing or combing through streaming libraries, without the time to find the perfect one for them. So let's interrogate, what are you looking for?


To be clear, this is not a ranking or ‘top however many' list, but if such a list were written, Drunken Master 2: Legend of the Drunken Master would probably take the cake. The premise should tantalize: Jackie is the folk hero Wong Fei-hung, who's skills in martial arts increase the more booze he downs. The fight choreography here is some of the best ever put on screen, and despite the fact that Chan is performing in the same real life ‘drunken' style as in the first Drunken Master, mimicking the movements of the inebriated, returning to the technique 16 years later means that as a seasoned performer he lends his signature fluidity and acrobatics to action so versatile and fast-paced, there's hardly time to groan at how painful the last drop onto hot coals looked before you're laughing at Chan dragging his opponents along for a handstand walk to launch them into a wall.


Drunken Master 2 was a return to traditional style martial arts films, but what Jackie became best known for were spectacular action juggernauts, pitting his brawling expertise against people with guns, or tanks, or... mostly guns, incorporating more of what would become the inspiration for parkour. In these films, though Jackie insured there was no shortage of good fights, the real draw became his incredible and innovative stunt work. This swatch of films produced the first of his blooper reels, original just chronicling the difficulty and danger of his escapades. The best compiling of such stunts is in Police Story 3: Supercop, a truly bonkers action epic, where Chan and friends leap from car to car, drive motorcycles on top of trains, and dangle high above Hong Kong from the ladder of a helicopter (sticking a death-defying landing), all of these things moving of course, and crucially, all of them 100% real. And if you're a fan of Jackie's, the prospect of co-star Michelle Yeoh on top form should double your interest.


Alright, maybe some of this is a little too far off the deep end. We've spelunked too far into the Chaniverse too fast; keeping track of who's saying what in the terrible dubs or if you need to know who anyone left over from previous installments is, is a little too much for a Sunday watch. You need a more traditional, straightforward, Hollywood-style action comedy to really chill out. Well, Jackie hasn't had the best of luck with American directors, they tend to squander his talents, but the first Rush Hour is still pretty great. If you've somehow missed it, the film pairs up a motormouth underachieving American showboat with a penchant for screwing up his cases (Chris Tucker) with an inarticulate overachieving humble top cop with an absolute command of martial arts (guess who?). Look no further than the end credits blooper reel to see where the focus of the film lies; not so many flubbed stunts, and plenty of flubbed lines and fun interactions between Chan and Tucker.


If it's the comedy you don't like, firstly: you soulless dreck, and secondly: we've got you covered. Crime Story features a pretty serious take on actual events surrounding of the 1990 kidnapping of a Chinese businessman, wherein Chan, and inspector suffering from PTSD must track down the kidnapped whilst a mole from within the force works to undermine him. It's tense, intense and strives to be a little more emotional than the rest of these.

Location, Location, Location

Maybe to you, Jackie brings the goods every time, and it's not so much what he does, as where and how he does it. Well, if you're looking for variety of setting, so that you don't sit through more than 20 minutes without a change of scenery, try First Strike (a.k.a. Police Story 4) . Watch Jackie on a globetrotting mission as he skis snowy slopes, hikes along horrifying high-rises, crashes a colossal carnival, shatters a shopping centre and swims with sharks.


And finally; chopsocky are the kung-fu movies from the '60s and '70s stoned college kids put on for a laugh. They are the classic, no-budget, all fighting messes that rely completely on their performer's gifts. Terribly dubbed, crawling with training montages, snap-zooms and whipping wind sounds when fighters wave their arms, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is *the* typical chopsocky movie, and a fine one at that. While the other fighters have comparatively minimal polish, this was Chan's first pivot towards what is his recognizably quirky style today, meaning that as when any of us discover something we're good at, he turns it up to a ridiculous degree. This is a silly movie.

Earlier in this article a comparison was drawn between Chan and the best of the silent clowns; he's equated with Buster Keaton particularly often. It's an apt comparison, especially on the level of their underdog personas as well as their meticulous and perfectly judged stunt-work. But, while Keaton's charm was in his trademark ‘stone face', Jackie is manifestly warm and welcoming, a gift to all of his films, and making him one of our most beloved and universal stars.