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Summer Splash | Movies

Chan Spurred Into Action

The Hong Kong star's vision of 'Far East meets the Old West' is realized in his latest movie.

May 25, 2000|ANNE BERGMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Chan's commitment to the Asian market has paid off, as he is one of the biggest box-office draws in Asia, with fans in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Despite his fame, however, Chan remains decidedly down to earth.

"Literally the first day I worked with him, I saw him moving electrical equipment," Wilson says. "It was toward the end of the day and they were hustling to get a shot and Jackie's racing with the grips to help them move stuff. I'd never seen that, and it kind of shamed me as I sat in my chair."

"I've been doing this for so many years," Chan explains. "I was the first one to have a motor home (on the set) in Asia. But I found out that when I went in the motor home I never wanted to come out. I gave it away because I wanted to be on the set where everyone is the same, equal. I help move camera equipment. I pick up the rubbish. That's what I'm used to doing. It's nothing special, but in America, they really treat you like a big star and I'm just not used to it. I like moving around the props, the lights, I want to do everything."

"Everything" includes doing his own stunts, which often lead to injury. "I believe yes, I hurt myself making 'Shanghai Noon,' " says Chan. "I cut my hand. I burnt my hand. I punched my finger." The most painful injury came in a fight sequence when a spear tore off the queue--a ponytail made from a hair extension--Chan wore for most of the film. "That was very painful," he says. "But it's OK, I just turn around and keep going."

Chan's stunt work amazed Wilson. "You see that action stuff on screen and then you see him do it in person and it's like Fred Astaire's balletic moves," he says. "Quentin Tarantino once said that if he could come back as anyone he'd like to come back as Jackie Chan, and after watching him for a few months, I'd have to agree."

To give his audience a sense of what goes into making a Jackie Chan movie, injuries and all, Chan includes outtakes under his end credits. "Outtakes are my trademark," he says. "I started using them 20 years ago, little by little. Sometimes when I'd have an outtake, I would laugh like hell in the editing room and I thought I should put them in front of an audience in the credits. Audiences liked it; even now American audiences like it ... Nobody leaves a Jackie Chan movie during the credits. They wait until the movie is finished.

"We're not doing special effects, or computer graphics, so we have a lot of outtakes. So you see that I can get hurt, but some other American action movies, they don't have outtakes. Why? Because they're all in front of the blue backgrounds and using computer graphics."

Once Chan finishes filming "Rush Hour II's" reunion with Tucker--in Hong Kong, China and Las Vegas--he says that come April 2001 he'll launch into filming a sequel to "Shanghai Noon."

While Chan says making a Hollywood western and its sequel fulfills a dream, he adds that he has another, to make a film about firefighters that would be a "Backdraft II.' " In addition, he has no plans to retire from movie making and even seems to relish his frenetic production pace. "In my itinerary, there's no holiday," he says proudly. "I'm used to it. This morning I have two hours of rest. That's like a bonus."

Chan says he wants to work as long as he can to continue building his legacy. "Buster Keaton is one of my heroes," Chan explains. "Even now when you look back, you're still like, 'Wow! How did he do that?' That's what I want for when I retire, or when I get old or after I pass away. I want people to look at a Jackie Chan film and say: 'Wow, how can he do that?!' "

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