Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
When you think of Martial Arts, there are some names that immediately jump into your head. None the least of which is the legendary Jackie Chan. His high flying and comedic antics have helped to define several decades of Martial Arts movies and stars.
So itís a sad day indeed when Jackie Chan announces he is retiring as an action star. His last film as an action star will be at the end of this year, Chinese Zodiac. It seems fitting as the movie continues the story of one of his most famous characters, Asian Hawk. As with the previous two movies, Armour of God and Operation Condor, this movie promises some great action a-la-Indian Jones style. This time, Asian Hawk must return "the bronze head statues of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, which were sacked by the French and British armies from the imperial Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860." [ Wikipedia].
According to reports, Jackie Chan does plan to continue to acting and hoping to take on more serious roles. He is hoping to be able to reshape his career, much like Robert De Niro, who managed to move beyond his gangster/action persona to drama films.
This isnít as far of a stretch as some may believe. Outside of the Western world, Jackie Chan is known for more than just his Martial Arts. In fact, his background, and what shaped his career, is based on traditional Chinese Opera. He started his training in the Peking Opera School at the age of 6 when his father immigrated to Australia to work as the head chef to the American embassy. Traditional Chinese Opera has always been known for its mixture of singing, dancing, acrobatics and martial arts. In fact, if you study Chinese history, many martial artists found their way into opera to avoid persecution.
In addition to being an action star, Jackie Chan is recognized as a writer and director, having an active role in many of his own films and the films of up and coming action stars. He has participated in and helped to develop various cartoons and video games for children. And he also has a number of albums and is a recognized Mandarin and Cantonese pop star. He is very active with youth, being both a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and founding the Jackie Chan Charitable Organization, which offers scholarships to Hong Kong youths.
Understanding all of this about his background, it should come as no surprise that he has announced his retirement from being an action star.
ďThis is my last action film. I am not young any more. I am really, really tired. The world is too violent right now. Itís a dilemma ó I love fighting. I like action. But I donít like violence,Ē he said. [The Hindu].
Only time will tell if audiences can accept him as anything other than the comedian or martial artist. If anyone can do it, it is Jackie Chan. We wish him all the best of luck and hope we do see more films from him in the future.