Jackie Chan has gone through quite a career metamorphosis over the years. He started out in 1962 (holy shit!), and has been in over 100 movies. His career was made on insane, self-performed stunts, amazing physical presence, and some serious martial arts chops. He ranged from serious cop thrillers to sillier fare, but he was always pretty damn entertaining.
Then came Rumble In The Bronx, his first movie to make it big in the U.S., and the beginning of the end. He produced some solid American films, like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, but soon after, Chan became a parody of his former self, acting in increasingly ridiculous and goofy movies that were mined more for embarrassing physical comedy than for impressive physical prowess. He crashed through the bottom of the barrel with films like The Medallion and that one with Jennifer Love Hewitt, which I cannot bring myself to look up. He still acted in a fair amount of Hong Kong action/action-comedies, but in the U.S., stupid became his bread and butter.
Now, he’s going in a surprising new direction, with the film 1911 (or 1911 Revolution, depending on where you look), a film he co-directed with cinematographer Li Zhang (Red Cliff). It’s a sprawling historical epic based on the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the founding of the Chinese republic. It looks pretty damn great, and there appears to be more drama than punch-and-kick action. At 57 years old, he’s not quite as spry as he once was, and his lined face serves the film well. I’m hoping for good things.