Jackie Chan is one of the most world renowned Martial Artists of his time, the impact he has had on film and Hollywood in general is an art that will last forever. Breaking almost every bone in his body, he has done some of the most insane stunts put on screen and has become the master of the action comedy genre. Jackie Chan has introduced a new way of filming and choreographing fight scenes and setting the standard for on screen brawls. In 2017 he was presented with an honorary Academy Award, a much overdue award that the action star was given for his contribution to film. For this list we will be ranking his ten best films, some that showcase some of his incredible fight scenes and his death defying stunts. Chans movies aren’t known for their compelling stories or phenomenal acting, we understand that anytime we sit down to watch the master do what he does best. However, we still enjoy these films for the level of skill on display and the risks Jackie is willing to make for his fans. And just to be sure that we know the reality of his stunts, he gives fans outtakes at the end of his movies and shows us just how dangerous and precise his fights and stunts are. While many of these films were originally distributed in China before they were dubbed and released in America, we will be incorporating the year these films originally created.
10. Rush Hour (1998)
While this wasn’t his first film to be released in America, it was one of the first to be directed by an American director (Brett Ratner) after the unfortunate bomb of The Protector and distributed by a US film company New Line Cinema. A clashing of cultures, Jackie plays Hong Kong detective Inspector Lee who has been hunting down the crime lord Juntao. When Chinese Consul Solon Han moves to America, Junatos forces kidnap his daughter Soo Yung to hold a ransom. Inspector Lee travels to the United States to find the Counsel’s daughter, but is forced to work alongside LAPD detective James Carter. While this isn’t Jackie’s most ambitious or dangerous film he has produced, the way Chan and Tucker play off of each other to ease audiences into Jackies style of action and comedy. One scene in particular comes towards the conclusion of the movie, when Lee and Carter are facing off against Juntaos men in a Chinese artifact museum. While many of the priceless items in the museum risk being destroyed during the battle, Jackie has to fight off his enemies while also protecting and saving the ancient relics. The success of this first entry spawned two additional sequels and while many rumors have speculated the possibility of a fourth installment, there are no plans for another Rush Hour film.
9. Project A (1983)
At the end of the 19th Century, Hong Kong and the British battle for rule over the mainland. However, pirates have taken control of the seas. In an effort to take control back of the seas, the Coast Guard is given an increase in funds to fight against the pirates. But when the Coast Guard continues to be overrun, one officer takes matters into his own hands to takedown the pirates and restore order. Jackie plays Dragon Ma, as well as taking on the directors for this movie. He is assisted with the help of his longtime friend and respected martial artist Sammo Hung. Project A has a bundle of incredible action scenes that make audiences question if precautions were made to protect the actors or if they just really went for it. Fortunately, they silence those doubts with one of Jackies most dangerous stunts. While trying to escape a battle with a pirate in a clock tower, Jackie climbs out of the tower to escape but finds himself hanging from the big hand of the clock. No longer able to hold on any longer, Jackie lets go and falls through two fabric awnings and crashes onto the hard ground. Some might think that this was done with a stunt double or wires, but you’ll surprised to know that Chan actually fell from the tower and onto the ground. In fact, he didn’t like the first take very much so he shot it again and did the fall for a second time and suffered a severe neck injury.
8. Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996)
Jackie returns as Inspector Chan Ka Kui for the fourth installment in his Police Story series, First Strike became Jackies highest grossing Hong-Kong film to date. When Inspector Chan is assigned to retrieve information about a Nuclear Weapons dealer, he finds himself traveling around the world to catch him. But the deeper Jackie goes, the more he discovers the truth behind the dealer known as Jackson Tsui. It is discovered that Colonel Gregor Yegorov, who has been assisting Jackie on his mission is actually the weapons dealer and has been blackmailing Tsui as a pawn in his dealing and changing the course of the film. For this film, Jackie manages to put a number or dangerous scenes in this movie. Including a segment that takes place in wintery Sweden, when Jackie is hanging from a helicopter and falls into a subzero lake while the helicopter explodes. Just when you think it can’t get much worse though, they throw him into a tank with live sharks. But one of the stand out moments in the film comes in a fight scene in a warehouse, pitting Jackie against several men in an incredibly choreographed sequence and shows audiences just how creative Chan can get when he uses a ladder during combat.
7. Supercop (1992)
The third film in the acclaimed Police Story series, the first in the franchise to be not be directed by Jackie himself and instead entrusted in the hands of Stanley Tong. When Jackie is sent undercover to investigate the activity of a known drug smuggler, he ends up finding himself in a strange situation. Participating in the escape of the drug smuggler Panther, Jackie must now continue his mission as an ally to Panther in order to figure out the drug smuggling activity and put an end to it. In this film, Jackie is assisted by popular Chinese action star Michelle Yeoh who plays another undercover cop but poses as Jackies sister. The inclusion of Michelle Yeoh elevated the film in many ways, considering she too was doing her stunts herself just as Jackie does. Her popularity in this film managed to spawn her a separate film of her own with Supercop 2. Quentin Tarantino has stated Supercop being one of his favorite films, go as far as saying it has some of the most incredible stunts put on screen. Such stunts include Jackie hanging on the ladder from a helicopter, at one point the daredevil is hanging onto a pole while a helicopter flies around and manages to hit Jackie, ripping his shoulder muscles and breaking his cheek bone.
6. Who Am I? (1998)
The second film to be shot entirely in English after the success of Mr. Nice Guy in 1997. Who Am I? begins in South Africa when three scientists are kidnapped after working with a dangerous compound that has been discovered in a specific meteorite. Jackie and his team of soldiers are sent on a helicopter to investigate, but when the pilots betray Jackie and his team. Jackie tries to capture one of them from escaping he finds himself dangling from the side of the helicopter and slips out of the hands of his men who are trying to rescue him. Jackie wakes up in a tribal village with no memory of what happened or who he is. After joining the tribe and fixing his wounds, he discovers a convoy that can get him back to civilization. Now with no memory, Jackie sets out to find out who he is and also complete his mission of finding the kidnapped scientists. Another fight scene for the books comes during a rooftop sequence where Jackie takes on two men separately. While one manages to knock Jackie down, it’s the follow up fight that really shines in the film. Still unsure if Chan is potentially superhuman, this film also contains a sequence where Jackie has to make a daring escape on a rooftop, by sliding down along the side of a steep glass roof and only having the ledge at the bottom to stop him. This scene is considered one of the most dangerous stunts put on screen.
5.Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
The first Hong Kong film to be released across cinemas in the United States. Jackie plays as Keong who is visiting New York City from Hong Kong for his uncles wedding. After the wedding, Jackie is left home alone before going back to Hong Kong and to watch over his uncles market. One day when some thugs come in and start harassing the workers of the store, Jackie intervenes and makes himself known to the gang these men are a part of. But the thugs get involved in other criminal activity that ends up putting Jackie in the crossfire, and when law enforcement does nothing to interfere, Jackie takes things into his own hands to end this war between gangs. In one scene, Jackie is set to make a leap from one building to the other and while this might seem dangerous to others, it was just another day at the office for Jackie and made the jump with only needing one take. Stand out fight scene comes when Jackie confronts one of the gangs at their hideout and decides to show them a lesson, I think the message is received when he unleashes himself on the gang using an array of objects like shopping carts, refrigerators and even a pinball machine.
4. Drunken Master (1978)
One of Jackies breakthrough roles that set him on the path to become legend. Drunken Master tells the story of Wong Fei-Hung, who is a young man consistently in trouble. In an effort to straighten him up, his father hires a martial arts master to take Fei-Hung under his wing and teach him discipline. But when Fei-Hung discovers the brutal methods this masters uses, he runs away to avoid going. He retreats to a restaurant where he enjoys a large meal and tries to leave without paying but when the bouncer fights and humiliates him, Fei-Hung learns that the bouncer is actually Beggar So who turns out to be the same man Fei-Hungs father hired to train him. Taking him back to his home, the traitorous training begins and Fei-Hung ends up running away again. However, he runs into a deadly assassin who brutalizes Fei-Hung, forcing him to go back to Begger So and teach him how to defend him. Learning the ways of Drunken Boxing, he later confronts the assassin and becomes the Drunken Master. A requirement to watch for any Jackie Chan fans, this film breathed new life in martial arts with its introduction to Drunken Boxing and will go down in history as one of his greatest films.
3. Armour of God (1986)
Released in America after Operation Condor, this film is actually the first of the two when it was released in Hong Kong. Jackie plays as Asian Hawk, a musician who left the lifestyle in search of a new one and becomes a treasure hunter. After his first mission finding a sword that is a piece of a set that is called the Armour of God and putting it up for auction. One day, Jackies old band mate Alan comes him and explains that his girlfriend has been kidnapped by a cult and needs Jackies help to save her. The cult possess two pieces to the Armour of God and intend to use Jackie to remaining three pieces. Jackie and Alan travel to Yugoslavia with the three pieces to fight against the cult and save Alans girlfriend. While this film doesn’t have one of Jackies most dangerous stunts, what it does have is the stunt that nearly took his life. In one scene Jackie leaps off a wall to grab onto a tree branch, successful but not satisfied with the first take. Jackie attempted it again but the branch snapped and sent Jackie falling down and hitting his head on a pointed rock, the rock cracked his skull and forced pieces of bone into his brain. Jackie was rushed to a hospital where he spent eight hours in surgery, but had a successful recovery. He is left with the souvenir of a hole in his skull and slight hearing loss in one ear.
2. Police Story (1985)
One of Chans most critically acclaimed movies, earning him Best Film at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards and Chan claiming it is his best Action film. Like most of his other movies, the plot is fairly simple. Chan plays a cop who is responsible for capturing and incarcerating a drug lord, in an act of revenge the drug lord frames Chan for the murder of another officer. What plays out is Jackies desperate eagerness to clear his name while protecting his girlfriend and surviving the onslaught of people who want him dead. However, the beauty in choreography and cinematography comes together in one of Jackies most brutal fight sequences taking place in a mall. Large amounts of glass is broken, men are being thrown down stairs and through glass panels. All culminating to a gripping moment when Jackie leaps onto a pole covered in lights to slide down and get to the bottom floor of the mall quicker. This stunt gave Chan burns on his hands as well as damaging his seventh and eighth vertebrae and dislocating his pelvis. However, it all paid off in the end for Jackie and his stunt team since they made of the best renowned action films to date.
1. Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)
Our number one pick is Jackie Chans greatest and most renowned film to date. Also called Drunken Master II and a direct sequel to the 1978 film Drunken Master, Chan is back as Wong Fei-Hung. After Fei-Hung accidently mixes up a ginseng root with a priceless artifact and gets caught up in battle with foreigners who are trying to take all of Chinas ancient artifacts. Now having learned Drunken Boxing, he must use his skills to become the opposition against them to protect Chinas history. However, his father opposes Fei-Hung from participating in any fight against the foreigners and above all, forbids him from using Drunken Boxing. Causing confliction between Fei-Hung and his father, as well as the responsibility he feels to fight for China. As I mentioned before, Jackies movies aren’t always known for a gripping story or amazing acting. However, in this film Jackie proves otherwise. Not only are the fight scenes incredible to view but the acting Jackie Chan portrays are his best moments. The emotion and honor Jackie shows on his face when he faces his father or the struggles deciding what he should do puts Jackie on another level of talent. Not only does his acting show in his emotion, but the scenes where he is preforming Drunken Boxing and his character is actually drunk are something to appreciate. Every fight scene Jackie does in this film just proves to us more and more that he is Drunken Master.
Jackie Chan is a legend, through and through. His work on screen and behind the camera will never be forgotten. The way he crafts a fight scene with dangerous stunts and how he films the scene with wide angles showing us everything we want.