Jackie Chan is tired. After 100 films it’s understandable.
But understanding doesn’t prevent a tinge of sadness that arguably that one of cinema’s treasures is quitting making action movies.
Some people will have seen every work and others will just know him as a Hollywood star from recent years but for me, the first introduction to his singular style came when Jonathan Ross ran a series of his films on Channel 4 in the wee small hours.
Project A, Police Story, Armour of God, Wheels on Meals…. I taped them all and with my brothers watched them repeatedly until the VHS was reduced to grey static and the faint, muffled sound of fist and face.
A gifted comic, astonishing martial artist, inventive choreographer, effective actor and terrible singer, Chan has enough killer scenes in his back catalogue to pick over until his final action film Chinese Zodiac is released in December.
He’s not retiring from film altogether, saying he now wants to be the Asian Robert De Niro, but before he heads in a new direction, let’s acknowledge that his place in history is already assured.
The Drunken Master final fight
Inventive, funny and technically superb, Chan shows the grace of a ballet dancer while convincing as a man who is as drunk as he is capable.
The bicycle scene in Project A
A slapstick bike chase finishes with one of the best things in action cinema – a Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung team-up.
The Police Story bus scene
Plenty of Hollywood actors modestly admit under the faintest of pressure to “performing some of their own stunts”. None of them tear after a bus on foot and launch themselves at it with an umbrella in hand.
The Wheels on Meals final fight
Not just a brutally brilliant showdown between Chan and kickboxer Benny “the Jet” Urquidez but also completely convincing. Far from the unbeatable hero, Chan persuades you that every blow hurts and that he has to dig deep to defeat that worst of all villains – the type of guy who snaps his braces without any sense of irony. He’s already the Asian De Niro.