Tonight the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis is showing Supercop, kicking off their month long Jackie Chan retrospective. In honor of this (and because I’m a huge Jackie Chan fan), here are my top 10 favorite films of Mr. Jackie Chan.
1) Police Story (1985)
After being framed for the murder of a dirty cop, a virtuous police officer played by Chan works to bring down the crime lord that framed him and in the process, clear his name. Police Story is probably Jackie’s best film overall. It features some of his most undeniably greatest stunt work ever captured on film. From the amazing bus sequence to the mall fight, Jackie and his stunt team basically put everyone else in the action genre to shame. This film also features some of his best acting. In the end, it’s one of his darkest films and shows off the range that he is capable of. The sequel Police Story 2 is also fantastic but the stunts in this one set it apart. Chan has made several more sequels including Police Story 3, otherwise known as Supercop (which is fantastic) as well as some more modern sequels such as New Police Story and Police Story 2013 (which are only okay). If you only see one Jackie Chan film this is it.
2) Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
The first big, successful Jackie Chan film in the states. Like many people in America, it was the first time I was introduced to Jackie’s work. Jackie had other films that tried to break him into the U.S. market like Battle Creek Brawl (a.k.a. The Big Brawl), Cannonball Run, and The Protector but none of these matched the success of Rumble (mostly ‘cause they sucked). When I first saw Rumble I was 11 and I was absolutely blown away. I thought, “This guy is like a real life superhero!”. After seeing this movie, my friends and I would pretend to fight like Jackie, jumping around like little maniacs. The stunts in this film are some of his best and while the story is a little lacking, it works as an amazing introduction to the world of Jackie Chan.
3) City Hunter (1993)
Easily one of my absolute favorite films of his. This film is based on the Japanese manga turned wildly successful anime of the same name. The story follows Ryo Saeba (Played by Jackie), a sex crazed, perpetually hungry private detective and his assistant as they chase after a publishing magnate’s runaway daughter. They end up getting stuck on a cruise ship that gets hijacked by terrorists and then wacky hijinks ensue. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this movie sounds as though it’s Speed 2: Cruise Control only starring Jackie Chan instead of Jason Patrick but you couldn’t be more wrong. This film plays off the fact that it’s based off a manga/anime by adding very cartoony aspects throughout. It’s like watching a live action cartoon in the best way possible. Despite having a batshit crazy musical sequence, the most memorable scene in the film is when Jackie is thrown into a Street Fighter 2 arcade machine and all the characters in the fight turn into Street Fighter characters. If Jackie Chan dressed up like Chun Li doesn’t make you want to watch this film immediately then you need to re-evaluate your life.
4) Wheels on Meals (1984)
Jackie Chan grew up in what’s basically a Chinese circus. It was there that he befriended Hong Kong/Kung-Fu legends Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao and together they are known as the Three Dragons. As Chan got more and more famous after breaking into the film industry, he produced several films to star him and his two best buds. Project A was the first big success for the Three Dragons. While I love Project A, Wheels on Meals is my favorite of the Three Dragons films. Chan and Biao play owners of a food truck and when their private detective friend played by Hung asks for their help, in a case involving a beautiful girl, they drop everything. It’s a fun film that showcases all three of the stars equally (as opposed to some of the other Three Dragons films like The Prisoner where Jackie is only in like 20 minutes of it). For whatever reason this film is seriously underappreciated and mostly unheard of, which is sad because it’s super fun. Filled with lots of great stunts and plenty of humor, this film is not to be missed.
5) Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)
This is Jackie’s penultimate martial arts film. He is at his peak here. This film is packed with his greatest and most memorable fight scenes of his career. Jackie reprises his role of legendary drunken master Wong Fei-Hung from his original breakout Chinese hit, Drunken Master. Here, Wong Fei-Hung has given up drinking per his father’s request but when he accidentally crosses paths with a group looking to smuggle precious ancient chinese artifacts out of the country he falls off the wagon to kick some ass. I mean seriously, major ass is kicked in this film. I love that he also manages to make this movie one of his funniest at the same time. Comedy/Action gold!
6) Who Am I? (1998)
In this movie Jackie plays a special forces agent who loses his memory after his superior officer betrays his unit, killing everyone except for Jackie who escapes by falling out of the helicopter they were in. He gets taken care of by some random African tribesmen but leaves to figure out who he really is. In doing so, he randomly gets involved in a Rally race. At the time I didn’t think Rally racing was a real thing outside of Sega Rally for the Sega Saturn. Anywho, he wins the race and the people who ordered the death of his unit go after him. It’s a really fun movie as he goes to a bunch of different countries and the whole movie moves at a decent pace. There is a particularly great fight scene towards the end where two guys fight Jackie while timing each other with a stopwatch, trying to see who can hit him the fastest.
7) Project A (1983)
Adventure! Kung-Fu! PIRATES!?! This movie is spectacular. It’s a period film set in turn of the century China where Jackie plays a new member of the Hong Kong Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is tasked with the job of taking out the pirates that are controlling the seas around Hong Kong. The pirates have a lot of power both on the sea and on land but Jackie is determined to make everything right and peaceful once again. This film has a lot of crazy stunts involving set pieces, most notably a tower sequence that pays great homage to Harold Lloyd’s masterpiece Safety Last! and the scene involving gears that pays homage to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Lots of great stunts plus it’s got Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the other 2 Dragons!
8) Supercop (1992)
The cop that can’t be stopped! The third movie in the Police Story series, this movie really shines. The inclusion of Michelle Yeoh really sets this movie apart. Michelle had previously acted with Jackie briefly in a minor role in My Lucky Stars 2: Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and she made a couple action films such as Yes, Madam and Magnificent Warriors but retired from acting in 1987 after marrying a guy named Dickson Poon (that is honestly his name!). Supercop marks the return to acting for Michelle after her divorce from Poon (seriously, his name is DICKSON POON) and it couldn’t have been better. She became a mega star with this and The Heroic Trio which came out the next year. Michelle and Jackie play off each other superbly and the duo kicks major ass. The end train/helicopter/rooftop sequence is absolutely fantastic. Jackie’s character has an always annoying girlfriend throughout the series played by Maggie Cheung (In the Mood For Love, The Heroic Trio) and I just can’t stand this character. She always fucks up whatever Jackie’s character is trying to do. In Supercop, I really just wanted Jackie to dump Cheung’s character and end up with Yeoh in the end. That would have made this movie so much better. Michelle reprised her role in Supercop 2 also known as Once A Cop or Police Story 3 Part 2: Supercop (that’s a mouthful!).
9) Operation Condor (1991)
Released in the U.S. in 1997, the original title of this film was Armour of God 2: Operation Condor. This first film in this series was later released in the U.S. as Operation Condor 2: The Armour of the Gods. I remember getting sneak preview tickets through a friend of mine to see this movie. I was so jacked up to see this movie and it did not disappoint. Almost all the people in the theatre were martial arts students which only made it more awesome since most of them were in their uniforms. I sat down next to this super intimidating bodybuilding dude. As soon as I sat down I could see the excitement in his eyes and he turned to me, this scrawny 13 year old kid, and asked if I liked Jackie Chan. “OF COURSE!”, I loudly proclaimed! We proceeded to gush about our love of Mr. Chan’s movies until the film started. Afterwards, he turned to me and said, “That was AWESOME!” The movie is basically Chan’s Indiana Jones adventure. Tons of fun and lots of fantastic set pieces. About a month later my dad brought home an Operation Condor poster and I had that baby up for years! That bodybuilding dude was right, this movie IS awesome and well worth a watch.
10) Miracles (1989)
Jackie Chan’s version of Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles (1961), this film bombed in Hong Kong. Jackie plays Cheng Wah Kuo, a country boy with pretty bad luck, who travels to Hong Kong but his luck changes when he buys a rose from a lady on the street and he suddenly becomes the head of a prominent gang. He starts up a nightclub and falls in love with the nightclub singer played by Chan regular Anita Mui. Cheng Wah Kuo believes his luck stems from the roses he buys from the lady on the street but things go sour when she learns that her daughter is coming to town and needs Cheng Wah Kuo’s help convincing her daughter that she is now a wealthy socialite to win the approval of her daughter’s fiancee’s father. It feels like classic Hollywood screwball comedy done Jackie Chan style. The stunts at times are subtle, mostly coming in the form of him nearly getting hit by cars or narrowly missing falling objects. There is a fantastic fight sequence in a restaurant that reminds you of the fact that you are watching a Jackie Chan film. According to Jackie’s autobiography this is his favorite film he’s ever made and it’s certainly worth a watch.
Trylon’s Jackie Chan retrospective starts tonight with Supercop with showings at 7PM and 9PM and tomorrow at the same times. They are also screening Project A (July 7th & 8th), Operation Condor (July 14th & 15th), The Legend of the Drunken Master (July 21st & 22nd) and Rumble in the Bronx (July 28th & 29th). Go check out some of Jackie’s best films and at the same time help support the best theatre in Minnesota. For more information, check out take-up.org