Jackie Chan is one of the most recognizable international actors whose various acting stunts make him an action movie star that is both interesting and exciting to watch. What is also well-known about Chan is that he does all of his own stunts. Anyone who has seen any of his movies can only imagine what it takes for him to not only pull off the stunts, but to escape largely unscathed from injury. Yet at age 64 he continues to be a marketable action movie hero, though his risk-taking factor has diminished somewhat.
There is a lot known about the actor’s movies, but there are many other things that will make you smile or even view him with greater awe once you become aware of them. So to get a deeper insight into this Chinese actor, here are 20 things you didn’t know about Jackie Chan.
1. His real name is Chan Kong-Sang
Naturally, to be marketable to American audiences he would have to find a name easier to remember, hence his first name would become his professional surname. Yet that name would not help him avoid a real world confrontation with a professional criminal organization, an event that is detailed later in this list. To add to the mystery, he would change his name later to something completely different and unrelated to this situation, another item found in this list.
2. He has publicly stated his son is basically on his own financially.
Chan’s own “academic” schooling and training was challenging to say the least, and from those experiences he gained a piece of wisdom that is useful for many parent. Regarding the distribution of his $130 million net worth, he said his son gets zero. Why? Chan basically says that if his son is “capable” he will be able to make his own money. On the other hand, if he is not then he will just be wasting mine. Definitely words to consider.
3. The number 12 was a critical one for Chan even before he was born.
The reports are, from including Chan himself, that he was in his mother’s womb for 12 months, and came out weighing 12 pounds. While some people doubt this story, there have been other historical medical records that report similar events – in one case a woman was pregnant for as long as 17 months. Chan was delivered by C-section (logically) and was informally named Cannonball. But his huge birth size was not an indicator of what his adult size would be, something some people find odd.
4. 9/11/2001 is a date that is eerily connected to Chan’s movie career.
One of Chan’s films that never saw the light of day was Nosebleed. The plot to the movie was about a window washer who would stop a terrorist attack at none other than the World Trade Center of New York City. The movie was being shot in 2001, the same general time the actual attacks occurred. Production on the movie stopped, and the idea was cancelled given the sensitivity to the subject matter by American audiences.
5. It’s likely the U.S. government keeps an eye on Chan when he is in the country.
He openly supports the Chinese Communist Party, and also looks askance at the democratic nation of Taiwan. He says that the Chinese people need to be controlled through the use of government censorship. Given these facts openly stated by Chan, it makes sense for him to be under some type of surveillance while he is roaming around America.
6. The Triad, a criminal organization in Hong Kong, tried to intimidate and even kill Chan.
Back in the 1980’s, an organization known as The Triad tried to extort money from Chan’s success through personal threats. Those attempts would eventually lead to Chan directly confronting members of the organization. Armed with grenades and an assortment of handguns, he met them in an alley to deal with the problem. Though nothing ever came of it, Chan’s public story became a point of interest to Hong Kong authorities, who investigated the incident as guns and grenades are not legal in Hong Kong. Nothing came of the investigation either, and The Triad has ceased to be of any importance in Chan’s life.
7. Chan’s preference for Communism is apparently offset by his love of capitalism.
One of Chan’s movie series that launched him to international fame was Rush Hour. But Chan says he never wanted to do the series, stating that the form of American humor is something he never understood. Also, he was no big fan of the action sequences. So why did he go through with the project? Money was the reason, and “irresistible” was the word used to describe the amount offered to him to do the movie.
8. Chan’s academic background is impressive – and definitely surprising.
Though attending the Chinese Opera Research Institute may not sound particularly impressive or grueling, the high school level curriculum that included studying the martial arts, singing, and dancing often required students to put in 19 hour days. Chan is a classically trained vocalist as well as an expert in hapkido. All of his early education was focused on becoming an actor in one form or another, and the martial arts training only provided him with more versatility.
9. During the path of his acting career, he has learned five other languages in addition to Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese.
Those other languages are English, German, Thai, Japanese, and Korean. Add American Sign Language to the list and you can see Chan is not only extraordinarily physically gifted, but he has an amazing intellect as well. If you are familiar with the differences in languages you know just how difficult it can be to understand the linguistic and dialectic nuances within a culture. Chan apparently has been able to keep all of these intricacies separate in his head.
10. His language skills paid off in an unusual way as he would go beyond simply training animals.
It has been believed by many people that while it is difficult to train animals, there are certain species of life that it is impossible to train. Chan somehow managed to train goldfish. Not only did he train them he was able to do it in two languages – Mandarin and English. It makes you wonder what it was that they taught Chan in that Chinese Opera Research Institute.
11. He sometimes underestimates his own abilities.
There is the story when he was working as a bouncer – a job he was clearly qualified to do – and got into a fight with another man. He presumed he was injured in the fight as he tried for two days to push a bone back into his fist, the result of hitting the man. It took him that long to realize that what he was trying to push back into his fist was not a bone at all, but one of the teeth of the man.
12. Chan’s acting roles were not all of the action genre but included one soft porn scene.
Before we use a few items on the list to focus in on his stunts, here is one that may help to give you a better perspective on the man and his movies. Back when he was struggling to make a living (as most famous actors attest to in their earlier days) Chan was featured in a Chinese movie All in the Family. He appeared in full frontal nudity, but remarks that it was at a time when work was virtually impossible to find. No apologies forthcoming.
13. Persistence pays off: on take 2900.
This single moment that takes place in one of his earlier movies, Dragon Lord, required nearly perfect timing and the perfect angle in order pull it off. This was back in the day when visual sleight of hand such as CGI was not around, so every scene had to be redone until the actors got it right. It is not for certain that it took exactly 2900 retakes, but what is 5 or 10 more or less when talking about 2900?
14. On a much broader scale, Chan holds what might be considered an actor’s nightmare.
He holds the Guinness Book of World Records entry in the category of “Most Stunts by a Living Actor.” There are plenty of other places on the Internet you can find information about his many broken bones and the plastic plug in his head as the result of a stunt gone wrong. What is amazing is that he has survived through all of them and can still be active at age 64.
15. Speaking of stunts, Chan has his own group of personalized stuntmen who work exclusively with him.
One of the reasons Jackie Chan is able to avoid injury to himself and others is he has a personally selected group of stunt people who he pays and insures for out of his own pocket. They have rehearsed over and over again, and use specific verbal grunts so Chan knows who is going to strike next. Yet even with all the verbal cues and practice, Chan still manages to find a way to get himself hurt shooting a movie.
16. Chan traces his stuntman legacy back to his days in two Bruce Lee films.
The Chinese Connection and Enter the Dragon were both films that Chan can be seen in when he was first starting out. What can easily be forgotten in this real life Chinese Connection is that Bruce Lee had an avid interest in improving his choreographic skills, something that Chan would later take to an even higher level. In martial art fight scenes, timing is everything and one mistimed punch or kick can cause serious damage to an actor – and his career.
17. He once stepped into the Segway business.
Chan decided to open a business venture that would sell the popular electric Segway scooter in China. It had all the advantages young people were looking for, as it was a clean and safe form of personal transportation that also had a certain “cool” factor to it. The problem in getting the business of the ground when Segway first came on to the transportation scene was that the U.S. cost of a standard Segway was $5,000. By the time it reached China the price almost doubled. Asking people to pay $5,000 for a scooter is one thing, but $10.000 can buy you a small car.
18. Jackie Chan had an unusual and untimely meeting with Bruce Lee.
While bowling and Bruce Lee usually don’t come up in the same sentence, in the case of Jackie Chan they have an eerie connection. Some may say it is only coincidence, but whatever the reason Lee saw Chan walking down the street one day as Lee was headed to a bowling alley. He asked Chan to join him, which he did, and Chan had the unspoken responsibility of keeping autograph hounds from bothering Lee. They parted ways afterwards, and just 10 days later Lee would be found dead.
19. He has an open public relationship with Chan La and Chan Zy.
Chan La and Chan Zy are two Build-a-Bear constructs of Chan, the result of visiting London back in 2010. It is reported he asks other celebrities to take pictures of them holding the pandas, to which many oblige. If you saw Chan at the Academy Awards in 2017, you would have seen them as his escorts. There is no explanation how the names of the two pandas end up spelling “lazy.”
20. Jackie Chan has had his name changed several times, sometimes legally and other times only for the purposes of his professional career.
His mother gave him the Chinese name Pao Pao which is translated as Cannonball in English because Chan would always be rolling around as a baby. He got his “Jackie” moniker as the result of working construction in Australia where he was known as Little Jack. That obviously was reduced to Jackie, and the name stuck. Finally, in honor of his father he had his legal name changed to Fong Si Lung, Fong being the name of his father.