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“My Top Ten Fights”

By Jackie Chan

Reprinted with permission from I Am Jackie Chan, My Life in Action by Jackie Chan, with Jeff Yang ©1998 by Ballantine Books.

1. “Jet Fighter, Part One,” Wheels on Meals
This was my first face-off with American champion kickboxer Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. He’s a great fighter, good enough that he tested my skills to the limit. In fact, throughout the filming of this scene, I teased him that we should fight a real match, not just a movie brawl. “Come on, Benny, let’s do it,” I’d say. And he’d say, “Any time, Jackie, any time.” Well, the time was always “sometime soon,” and by the time the film was finished, he finally caught on that I was just joking. To be honest, I don’t know who would have won if we did fight. He’s that good.

2. “Mall Brawl,” Police Story
Well, I said that Police Story was my favorite movie for action, didn’t I? Leading up to the Great Glass Slide was a fight that just didn’t let up, with shattering shop windows and display cases everywhere, and nearly everyone getting cut or bruised as the glass flew. Even Brigitte Lin Ching-hsin—poor Brigette—got into the action, with her small body being thrown through a glass table. I have to say, she really took the punishment like a trouper.

3. “Factory Fight,” Drunken Master II
A lot of my fans feel this is the best film I’ve made in the past five years—and it really was a big hit—but I’m still a little disappointed with the way Drunken Master II turned out. It was a sequel to my first real blockbuster, of course, so maybe I’m just holding it to a higher standard. Anyway, the film began with veteran Shaw Brothers director Lau Kar Leung at the helm, but he and I had different ideas about action. It’s pretty obvious how our philosophies contrast if you look at the fights at the beginning of the film and the one that ends it, which I choreographed and directed by myself.
His ideas are very traditional, almost like classical music; mine are more like jazz. My main opponent in this fight is Kenneth Lo, who’s my friend and bodyguard in real life. He was a champion kickboxer before going into the movies, and you can tell from the lightning speed of his leg work. To face Kenneth’s Thai boxing, I use choy li fut, a hybrid kung-fu style that blends northern and southern techniques, as well as some of the “drunken kung-fu” that everyone expects to see in a movie called Drunken Master II. In fact, at the very end of the scene, I actually drink industrial-strength alcohol, which gives me the strength (and tolerance for pain) to finally win the fight.

4. “Come Drink with Me,” Drunken Master
I face off in the finale of my first big box-office smash against Hwang Jang Lee, a Korean martial artist who is one of the greatest kickers in the history of kung-fu cinema. It’s an intense and unusual fight, featuring my comical “Eight Drunken Fairies” drunken-style fighting against Hwang-’s tae kwon do: fast, funny, and furious.

5. “Jet Fighter, Part Two,” Dragons Forever
In my opinion, the final fight of this movie is one of the best-shot action sequences that Sammo has ever directed. The pacing of my second battle with Benny “The Jet” Urquidez is wonderful, too, beginning slow with each of us sizing up the other while we take off our shirts and circle warily, and then building tremendous momentum into a whirlwind of kicks and punches. Truly a classic kung-fu moment. If I say so myself.

6. “Child’s Play,” Police Story II
An intricate example of prop fighting, in which I use playground equipment to take out a gang of thugs. Think of a complicated dance with a whole bunch of partners, over, under, through, and around swingsets, jungle gyms, and seesaws, and you’ll get a small piece of the picture here.

7. “Monks and Amazons,” Armour of God
A bizarre battle between me and a mob of angry monks, with a few warrior women thrown in for good measure. I developed my “one-man-against-the-world” fighting style in this crazy fight, battling outward in a spiral while using circular kicks to keep the cassock-wearing combatants at a distance.

8. “Bar Bash,” Project A
It’s us Coast Guard sailors against our hated rivals, the police squad, in a sensational barroom brawl. The action is so fast, and there are so many combatants, that it’s a little hard to follow everything that’s going on. But this is as close as it gets to filming a real bar fight (even though we weren’t actually out to kill each other); me and my stuntmen really were bouncing off the walls and furniture in this scene.

9. “No Pain, No Gain,” Young Master
In this epic extended battle, I fight hapkido expert Whang Inn-sik. I was very impressed with his martial arts, and was determined to show the audience the power and beauty of this Korean fighting style. As a result, I shot the entire scene at a wide angle with relatively few cuts. To finally defeat the master, I throw out all of my traditional techniques, and just go at him like a lunatic, flailing my arms and smashing into him with my head, my fists, and every other part of my body. I do win in the end, but at a price: the last scene of the movie shows me in a complete body cast, waving good-bye with my fingers.

10. “Turbo Charged,” Armour of God II- Operation Condor
I feel like I’ve got to include this fight, just because it was so much trouble to stage, and because the idea behind it was so bizarre. Me and Vincent Lyn, an American martial artist (he’s half-Chinese), battle in a giant wind tunnel, flying through the air, smashing against the back wall of the tunnel, and tumbling to the ground when the turbine is turned off. We did the whole thing wearing wires and harnesses, which were a pain to deal with (but how else were we going to pretend to be flying?). It’s a campy scene, but it’s a lot of fun. Especially when I fly at Vincent with my fist outstretched, shouting “Superman!” and use the thrust of the wind to punch him out.

“My Top Ten Stunts”

By Jackie Chan

Reprinted with permission from I Am Jackie Chan, My Life in Action, by Jackie Chan, with Jeff Yang ©1998 by Ballantine Books.

1. “Shantytown Stakeout,” Police Story
As far as action is concerned, Police Story is my favorite movie I’ve ever made, a real whirlwind of slam-bang stunts and wild fights from beginning to end.
To start things off right—that is to say, in an insanely exciting and dangerous way—Edward Tang King-sang and I scripted this opening sequence. My character and my fellow cops have been assigned to an undercover stakeout in an attempt to nab a notorious mobster. We set our trap along a winding mountain highway, taking up hidden positions throughout a rickety village of old tin and wood shacks. When our trap is sprung too soon, the dragnet turns into a disaster, as the gangsters try to escape by driving through the mountain village. Not “through” as in “zigzagging around the buildings,” but through as in smashing into, over, and through the buildings.
I quickly commandeer a car and begin a crazed chase down the slope after them. The car is smashed (as is the village), so I chase the crooks on foot. When they hijack a double-decker bus, I grab an umbrella, take a running leap, and hook its handle onto the rim of an open window. Hanging desperately onto the umbrella, I try to pull myself into the bus, but am eventually thrown clear. Scrambling down to a lower part of the highway, I draw my pistol, order the speeding bus to stop...and it does, just inches away from my body.

2. “The Great Glass Slide,” Police Story
This is where I finally put the drop on the gangsters once and for all. Of course, I had to put the drop on myself to do it—literally. After a glass-shattering fight inside a shopping mall, I spot my target several floors below, on the ground level of an open atrium. The only way to get down from my perch in time to do my policeman’s duty is to take a flying leap into the air, grab a hold of a pole wrapped in twinkling Christmas lights, and slide a hundred feet to the ground, through a glass-and-wood partition, onto the hard marble tile. We had to do this in one take, so I crossed my fingers and prayed that I’d hit the stunt the first time (and that I’d hit the ground softly). I made my jump, grabbed the pole, and watched the twinkling lights crack and pop all the way down, in an explosion of shattering glass and electrical sparks. Then I hit the glass. And then I hit the floor. Somehow I managed to survive with a collection of ugly bruises...and second-degree burns on the skin of my fingers and palms.

3. “Clock Tower Tumble,” Project A
After a wild bicycle chase through Hong Kong’s back alleys, I find myself high in the air, dangling from the hands of a giant clock face. With no other way to get down than fall, I let go—and crash through a series of cloth canopies before smashing into the ground. I had to do this one three times before I was satisfied with the way it looked. Trust me, I wouldn’t want to do it a fourth time.

4. “An Aerial Tour of Kuala Lumpur,” Police Story III: Supercop
By this time, all of you probably know Michelle Yeoh from Tomorrow Never Dies, the James Bond film. She resurrected her action career by co-starring with me in Supercop, my first film with Stanley Tong. Michelle isn’t a fighter; she never formally trained in martial arts, beginning her career as a ballet dancer. But one thing you can say for her is that she has the heart of a lionness. She did all of her own stunts in Supercop, because she threatened to beat me up if I wouldn’t let her. Her most dangerous sequence in the movie was a scene in which she rides a motorcycle up a ramp, into the air, and onto the roof of a moving train. I have to admit that after I saw her do that stunt, I felt like I had something to prove. That’s why we added this sequence, in which I jump from the roof of a building to a rope ladder swinging from the bottom of a hovering helicopter. The crooks flying the chopper try to knock me off the ladder by swinging me back and forth through the air and into buildings, moving at high speed above the streets of Malaysia’s capital. They don’t succeed, lucky for me. And the stunt looks almost as dangerous as it really was—lucky for all you action fans out there.

5. “Going Down . . .” Who Am I?
This scene was billed by my producers as the “world’s most dangerous stunt.” They were probably telling the truth, although just about any stunt is dangerous if you do it wrong. (The stunt that nearly killed me took place less than 15 feet off the ground, after all.) Luckily, I did it right. Eventually. Even though one of my stuntmen proved it could be done (from a lower level, of course), it took me two weeks to get up the nerve to try it myself. The sequence begins with me fighting it out with some thugs on the top of a very tall building in Rotterdam, Holland. After battling with them around the roof, and nearly falling off once or twice, I finally take the quickest possible trip to the sidewalk below, sliding down the side of the building, which is slanted nearly 45 degrees, all the way to the ground. Twenty-one stories. If I ever have an amusement park, I’ll be sure to turn this stunt into a ride.

6. “The Walls Come Tumblin Down,” Project A II
I saw Buster Keaton do this in Steamboat Bill, Jr., so of course I had to do it too. After running down the face of a ceremonial facade that’s in the process of falling over, I narrowly escape being crushed by standing in the right place at the right time, with my body going through an opening in the facade as it crashes down right over me. It’s all in the timing.

7. “No Way to Ride a Bus,” Police Story II
Another chase sequence, this time running along the tops of moving buses, while narrowly dodging signs and billboards that pass overhead and around me. At the end of the chase, I leap through a glass window... Unfortunately, I chose the wrong window as my target, and instead of hitting prop glass, I smashed through a real pane. Which left me in real pain.

8. “Down, Down, and Away,” Armour of God
I did this stunt just weeks after recovering from my near-fatal fall and serious brain surgery. The show must go on. My character, Asian Hawk, is racing to get away from angry natives (I’ve just stolen a priceless religious artifact from them, so they have good reason to be angry). Over a cliff I go...landing on top of a huge hot air balloon, safe and sound. I did this stunt by parachuting from a plane, which didn’t make it any safer.

9. “Roller Boogie,” Winners and Sinners
I’m not really the star of the “Lucky Stars” movies; I did the films mostly because of Sammo. (Well, it helped that the movies were box-office hits.) As a result, I don’t get much screen time, which is fine, because the rest of the cast is talented and hilarious. This scene gave me a chance to shine, though, using the roller-skating skill I learned for The Big Brawl in a chase sequence on a crowded highway. The wildest part of the sequence has me rolling over a Volkswagen Beetle, and then under an 18-wheeler truck rig. That’s one way of beating rush hour traffic.
10. “Cycle Thriller,” Armour of God II- Operation Condor
We intended Operation Condor to be epic in every way: big fights, big budget, and, of course, big stunts. There’s a chase sequence toward the beginning of the movie that stands as one of my best ever. After racing through the streets of Madrid on the back of a motorcycle, I find myself headed for the waterfront with nowhere to go but into the sea. Luckily, I spot a cargo net hanging from a crane at the edge of the docks, so I gun the engines and head full-speed toward the end of the pier in a deadly game of chicken with my pursuers. They’re forced to veer off and crash into stacked piles of crates, while I ride my cycle off the pier and into the air, leaping up to grab hold of the net at the very last minute. What a waste of a good bike.

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