So, Jackie Chan is retiring from action movies
. It makes me a little sad, but at the same time - maybe itís about that time? I would certainly rather be hearing this news than finding out that heís gotten himself killed on a movie set during some incredible but ill-advised stunt involving a backflip off of a motorcycle in mid-air between two skyscrapers to deliver a flying kick to some other guy on a motorcycle while on fire.
Itís honestly perplexing to me that there has never really been a Jackie Chan game worthy of the name, to my knowledge. I wanted to do a bit of research on his impact in games and all the places that Jackie look-alikes show up, but I found out that Hardcore Gaming 101
is all over that already. Their article is like 8 pages long, and probably you should be reading that instead of this if you really want to learn something!
Close your eyes and pretend that this is an embedded video! Well, don't CLOSE them, but...
I first learned about Jackie Chan back in 1993 or so - I think Armour of God and Twin Dragons were big at the time. Back in the days when videotapes existed, I used to help sell bootlegs at the monthly L.A. comic convention. It wasn't so easy to find japanese animation and HK flicks back then, especially subtitled. There were no torrents, no Toonami. People hadn't heard of Akira. There were anime clubs you could go to, to get introduced to things like Ranma films or Project A-ko, because there was nowhere local for a strapped college student to get ahold of that stuff.
Nowadays it is possible kids are actually a little bit TOO exposed to anime.
We'd get tapes that had clearly been recorded from public television, wavy lines, mediocre reception and all. Then someone would subtitle them (or in shadier instances, almost certainly snagged from a commercial laserdisc or someone's fansub - I won't lie, there was some hustle involved) - and then we'd copy manually on VCRs and hawk them at the con. It was my friend's deal, I just went for free lunch, free day at the con, and maybe 40 bucks for my time if business was solid. It was a bit of a time commitment, but I somehow managed to squeeze it in between all the Drunken Mastering, failing to have sex, and skipping class to play Mario Kart or Panzer Dragoon that otherwise kept me busy.
It was better quality than this. Usually.
We had this one copy of just Jackie Chan cuts of all the best stunts from all of his work - 2 hours of heads getting kicked in, in between ludicrous backflips and handsprings and wall runs, set mostly to a bunch of White Zombie and hardcore jams. This was some of my first exposure to the latest HK cinema, and it blew my mind. It was always one of the best sellers; I don't know how many times I watched that thing.
It's not an exaggeration to say that his influence changed the way our culture perceives and understands action. When you see an action sequence that doesn't make quick cuts, but actually just puts the camera at medium distance and lets you clearly observe the actors in motion, a lot of that came from the hundred-odd films this man put together. When you catch any reference to drunken master kung-fu, it comes back to Jackie's Drunken Master. And he never needed to be some kind of MMA hardass to do his thing - in any given situation, he'd rather make you laugh than make you bleed.
I will forever be in awe of Jackie Chan, who through training, dedication, and an unkillable sense of humor, has used the humble tools of his fists and a movie camera to elevate the level of wonder in the world by showing us things we would not have imagined were possible. The man moves through our waking world as though it were a video game - every surface available for him to navigate, every jump the precursor to a double jump. I feel like thereís more to say here, but this wonít be a timely post if I sit on it too long, and so Iíll make like the actor himself - drop it here, and move on to other things.