From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.
5. Project A
This one features Hung, Chan, and Biao, this time riffing on Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin in an action comedy set in the 1800s. You'd never guess by the generic title (demanded by the cast so as not to give too much of the movie's plot away) that the film deals with pirates, the high seas, and our trio's training to take on the bad guys. There's also the typical Hong Kong mobsters to deal with as well (apparently, such criminals are timeless). Chan's previous period pieces had not been that successful. With its inclusion of action and comedy, Project A was a huge success.
Actually, this is the third film in the long-running Police Story franchise, and it's the first not directed by Chan himself (Stanley Tong took over). Paired with Hong Kong superstar Michelle Yeoh as his character's Interpol contact, we find ourselves in a globe-trotting epic with our hero fighting fiends everywhere and anywhere he can, including one scene involving a train, a helicopter, and Chan hanging onto an attached rope ladder for dear life. The work here was so impressive that Quentin Tarantino often refers to Supercop as one of his favorite films of all time, with the greatest stunt work ever.
3. Drunken Master
Along with its equally inventive sequel, this is Chan at his very best. Like Sam Raimi's quintessential Evil Dead 2, this is one of the first Hong Kong martial arts movies to embrace comedy as part of its purpose. Also, this is one of Chan's earliest efforts, coming in 1978. Playing a young upstart who is constantly being undermined by the forces around him, he trains with the title sensei, learning the ways of Drunken Boxing and the all important Eight Drunken Immortals. The fight scenes are just electrifying, with a young Chan arguing for his future as one of Hong Kong's best.
2. Drunken Master II (Legend of the Drunken Master)
A sequel in name only -- sort of. Chan plays Wong Fei-hung, a famed martial artist, physician, acupuncturist, and revolutionary, who would later become a folk hero to many in China. This is another period piece, but with a decidedly more modern flair, and it contains some of the best action scenes and stunt work of Chan's career. As a matter of fact, the late film critic Roger Ebert loved this movie, pointing out that the final fight sequence is perhaps, one of the best of all time. On top of everything that comes before, that's some mighty praise indeed.
1. Police Story
In 1985, Chan thought he was ready to break into the American market. He teamed up with director James Glickenhaus and made the disappointing The Protector. Feeling a need to get his movie star mojo back, her took control of his next project, which ended up being the first in a franchise that has lasted 28 years. Chan himself considers this his best action film, and with good reason. The stunts are incredible, the fight scenes expertly choreographed and the storytelling lean, mean, and driven by a desire to entertain. Chan crafted the film like an old time silent (building the narrative around the various stunts), and it shows. Everything about Police Story comes together into a Hong Kong martial arts masterpiece.