Let's be clear, 80's Jackie Chan does not equal 90's Jackie. 90's Jackie doesn't equal 2000 Jackie and 2000 Jackie does not equal 2015 Jackie. But whether you're a seasoned 80's Hong Kong action veteran or a newbie looking to expand your collection there's no doubt that Jackie Chan is somewhere on your shelf or in your watch list.
While on the heels of Iron Man at #2 in 2015 for Top Earning Actors Worldwide, it's amazing that Chan is still wowing audiences and still at the top of the earning ranks. He may not being doing the same dangerous stunts but he is still always elevating his game and trying to do something different like with his new film, Dragon Blade.
To be honest it's been a while since I've seen a Jackie Chan film. For so long I was absolutely obsessed with his films and couldn't get enough. When he finally broke into Hollywood with Rush Hour it was both a happy moment to see one of my favorite actors who I skipped school to shake hands with finally have a legitimate Hollywood hit but it was also sad to see how he just wasn't the same Jackie Chan. From this moment on his films would be different. They would be entertaining and great but not have the same recklessness that gives his older films that charm. I don't want to discourage you from seeing all his films, but I hope to at least introduces younger audiences to his older work that they or you might not be familiar with.
Winners & Sinners (1983)
Chan returns from his under the table Hollywood debut in Cannonball Run (1981) to do a supporting role in Sammo Hung's Winners & Sinners. His last two films had been considered failures and he was in a transitional period that would eventually open the door to something of his first Renaissance. You can see the beginning of things to come.
The fast paced choreography was a change from the typical slow styled fight scenes you find in traditional kung fu films. It was more real and closer to life while still maintaining the martial arts foundation. It would influence Chan's later work and also made me realize that people got hurt making these films. A lot.
Project A (1983)
Though Yuen Biao appeared in WInners & Sinners, Project A is regarded by many as the birth of "The Three Dragons" The trio of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao produced a string of hits over a five year period. The films would define the HK Martial Arts genre of the 80's and would influence Chan's later films that now have influenced all of the world of Martial Arts film making.
This was also the beginning of the modern Jackie Chan style of filmmaking. He takes his direction and writing to another level using what he's learned from Hollywood. Project A was an homage to Harold Lloyd's Safety First and it was no more apparent than the ridiculous clock tower stunt he nearly kills himself doing.
The funny thing is that Lloyd used camera tricks to level out the danger of his stunts where as Chan just went all out. His use of the continuing shots showed audiences it was really him really putting his body on the line.
Project A was the film that made me not only absolutely love Chan but have a profound respect for his stunt team.
Wheels on Meals (1984)
Not only was 1984 a big year for Hollywood it was also a big year for Chan. After the success of Project A, Chan Hung & Biao teamed up again for what many argue their best film together.
Yes, the movie has a ton of great fight scenes and Chan and Yuen Biao are awesome together but let's not beat around the bush, the movie is all about it being the first fight between Jackie Chan and Benny "the Jet" Uriquoz.
Some consider this fight to be the best on film. I for one am partial to the rematch but there is no doubting that there is some awesome choreography.
Thanks for reading and be sure to look out for the second part of this article where we will look through Jackie Chan's best during his monster year of 1985! Also check out my other articles on comics and sports!