11 Things You Might Not Know About Jackie Chan

Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images
Kiyoshi Ota, Getty Images

Long before computer effects helped keep leading actors safe during stunts, Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan achieved international acclaim by putting his body and life at risk—often for multiple takes. Films like The Legend of the Drunken Master and Police Story showcased Chan’s willingness to endure traumatic injury for his comedic ballets of violence. Here are a few things you might not have known about the man who seems to have the cinema DNA of both Bruce Lee and Charlie Chaplin.

1. HIS MOTHER WAS AN OPIUM SMUGGLER.

Born Chan Kong-sang in 1954, Chan’s early life has been the subject of much discussion. His parents left him behind in Hong Kong when Chan was just seven years old: They fled a Communist regime and settled in Australia, working for the American Embassy. Chan lived at a boarding school that emphasized performance arts. Only in more recent years did Chan discover more about his parents. His father, Fang Daolang, was involved in illicit criminal activities and may have been a Nationalist spy; his mother had once been arrested for smuggling opium and had connections to the Shanghai underworld. Chan reunited with his father in 2003. His mother passed away in 2001.

2. HIS SCHOOL EDUCATION WAS GRUELING.

Jackie Chan poses for a publicity photo
Central Press/Getty Images

Enrolled at boarding school from ages seven to 17, Chan was subjected to some of the most physically and emotionally grueling training imaginable. The Chinese Opera Research Institute in Hong Kong put its students through arduous training to prepare them for a career in theater, including singing, dancing, and martial arts. Some days, Chan said, lessons would last 19 hours. By the time Chan graduated, however, ending up in Peking opera was unlikely. Instead, Chan turned his skills to martial arts films.

3. HE WENT FULL-FRONTAL FOR AN ADULT MOVIE.

Virtually all of Chan’s films treat violence with a comedic bent, and few have any excessive gore or content that would make them unsuitable for general audiences. But Chan does have one entry on his resume that probably wouldn’t qualify for family movie night. In 1975, Chan appeared in All in the Family, a Hong Kong softcore feature that starred a prominent adult film actress and featured Chan naked, albeit not engaged in any sexual activity. “I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago,” he said in 2006 of his reasons for making the film, “but I don't think it's a big deal. Even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies. The porn movie at that time was more conservative than the current films.”

4. HE TOOK BRUCE LEE BOWLING.

Statues of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee stand in a public area
Andrew Cowie, AFP/Getty Images

Early in Chan’s career, he made brief appearances in two Bruce Lee films: 1972’s The Chinese Connection and 1973’s Enter the Dragon. Months later, Chan was headed to a bowling alley when Lee spotted him in the street and asked to join him. Chan agreed, and the two played while Chan kept busy rebuffing autograph-seekers eager to get to Lee. Just about 10 days later, Lee would be dead of cerebral edema at age 32. "I was totally shocked," Chan said.

5. HE SOMETIMES USES STUNTMEN—FOR WALKING SCENES.

While Chan is willing and able to perform his own stunts, that doesn’t mean he’s put stuntmen completely out of business. In 2013, Chan told Yahoo! that stunt performers are sometimes used as stand-ins for his movies when scenes require his character to walk around, drive, or perform other menial tasks so Chan can rest. The actor also said he has stuntmen perform stunt tests so he has an idea of what to expect when he steps in front of the camera.

6. HE THOUGHT RUSH HOUR WAS TERRIBLE.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker pose for photos during a public appearance
Scott Gries, Getty Images

Though Chan experienced some success as a cult movie figure thanks to re-releases of his earlier movies in the 1990s, his big American break came as a result of 1998’s Rush Hour, which paired him with Chris Tucker. With limited opportunity to do his own stunts and the film relying on the culture clash between his character and Tucker’s, Chan didn’t really understand the appeal. “That’s a terrible movie,” he remembered telling his manager. “They don’t allow me to do my own style [of action]. The English, I’m not good. Chris Tucker’s English, I don’t understand. Terrible movie!”

7. HE HAD AN ARMED STANDOFF WITH THE TRIAD GANG.

Chan’s celebrity in Hong Kong has led to considerable wealth: His stature and fortune eventually led to him crossing paths with the notorious Triad gang in China. According to Time, Chan has said he has frequently been harassed by the criminal organization over the years, including one instance where members shot at him as he deboarded a plane. Tired of the conflict, Chan claimed he once confronted them with a gun and had grenades ready for a more explosive standoff. Because firearms carry heavy criminal penalties in Hong Kong, authorities contacted Chan after he told the story. After Chan told them the incident took place out of the region, they declined to pursue the matter further.

8. HE LIKES ASKING CELEBRITIES TO POSE WITH HIS TWO STUFFED PANDAS.

Jackie Chan poses with two stuffed pandas
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

In 2010, Chan visited a Build-a-Bear Workshop in London and constructed two stuffed panda bears that he named Chan La and Chan Zy. The actor is fond of traveling with them and asking fellow performers to pose with them for photos. His pandas have met Ang Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and Bill Clinton. The two also escorted him to the Academy Awards in 2017.

9. HE OWNED A SEGWAY DEALERSHIP.

Excited by the clean-transportation potential of the Segway scooter, Chan opened a dealership in 2006 and secured distribution rights to peddle the product throughout Asia. The actor wanted to promote a low-emission vehicle, though it was a pricey option: The retail cost of the Segway at the time in the U.S. was $5000. In China, it went for $10,000.

10. HE HAS A PERMANENT HOLE IN HIS HEAD.

Jackie Chan looks into the lens of a camera
J.P. Moczulski, AFP/Getty Images

Considering Chan’s prolific stunt career, it’s slightly amazing he’s still with us. But he had a very close brush with death shooting 1986's Armour of God. Describing the action as “simple,” Chan swung from a tree and hit his head on a rock, necessitating a surgically-inserted metal plate and a permanent, quarter-sized indentation in his skull. Chan will sometimes invite people, like co-stars or talk show hosts, to stick their fingers in it.

11. HE HOLDS THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR MOST CREDITS ON A MOVIE.

Chan often directs, produces, and stars in his Hong Kong films, but some projects have inspired him to take on additional responsibilities. For 2012’s Chinese Zodiac, Chan earned a Guinness World Record for most credits (15) in a single film. In addition to directing, producing, and acting, he is also credited as fight choreographer, composer, art director, unit production manager, gaffer, theme tune vocalist, writer, cinematographer, stuntman, prop work, and catering coordinator.

Rewind Time With This Blockbuster-Themed Party Game

Amazon/Big Potato Games
Amazon/Big Potato Games

With only one Blockbuster location left in the world, the good old days of wandering video rental store aisles and getting chewed out for late fees are definitely a thing of the past—but like so many relics from the '90s, the pull of nostalgia has ensured that Blockbuster (or at least the brand) won't disappear for good. Now the video store is back in the form of a party game from Big Potato Games that is designed to test the movie knowledge of you and up to 11 friends.

Marketing itself as “a movie game for anyone who has ever seen a movie,” the Blockbuster party game consists of two parts. In part one, players from each team compete head-to-head to name as many movies as they can that fit under specific categories (e.g., movies with Tom Cruise, famous trilogies, movies with planes). In the second half, two teams face off against each other to test their skills at a game of movie-related charades. The catch? Players can only describe movies in one of three randomly chosen ways: acting out scenes, rattling off a famous quote, or describing the films with one word.

The real selling point of the whole package is that Big Potato fit all the game cards and buzzer into a box that is virtually identical to the old-school Blockbuster VHS rental cases, right down to its distinct color scheme and shape. All it's missing is the membership card. 

The Blockbuster board game costs $26 on Amazon and $20 at Target. That’s a fair price for getting the chance to rewind time.

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8 Festive Facts About Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

The holiday season means gifts, lavish meals, stocking stuffers, and what appear to be literally hundreds of holiday-themed movies running in perpetuity on the Hallmark Channel, which has come to replace footage of a crackling fireplace as the background noise of choice for cozy evenings indoors. Last year, roughly 70 million people watched Hallmark's holiday scheduling block. If you’re curious how the network manages to assemble films like Check Inn to Christmas, Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays, and Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen with such efficiency—a total of 40 new films will debut this season on the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Hallmark Movies Now—keep reading.

1. The Hallmark Channel Christmas movie tradition started with ABC.

The idea of unspooling a continuous run of holiday films started in the 1990s, when ABC offshoot network ABC Family started a "25 Days of Christmas" programming promotion that would go on to feature the likes of Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez. The Hallmark Channel, which launched in 2001, didn’t fully embrace the concept until 2011, when ABC Family moved away from the concept in an effort to appeal to teen viewers.

2. Most Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are shot in Canada.

To maximize their $2 million budget, most Hallmark Channel holiday features are shot in Canada, where tax breaks can stretch the dollar. Wintry Vancouver is a popular destination, though films have also been shot in Montreal and Toronto. One film, 2018's Christmas at the Palace, was shot in Romania to take advantage of the country's castles.

3. Each Hallmark Channel Christmas movie only takes a couple of weeks to film.

If you’re wondering why a holiday movie on basic cable can regularly attract—and keep—a list of talent ranging from Candace Cameron Bure to Lacey Chabert, the answer is partly scheduling. Most Hallmark holiday movies take just two to three weeks to shoot, meaning actors don’t have to commit months out of the year to a project. Actors like Rachael Leigh Cook, who stars in this year's A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas, have also complimented the channel on giving them opportunities to be with their families while on location: Cook said that the production schedule allowed her time to FaceTime with family back home.

4. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies use a variety of tricks to create snow.

Even more pervasive than Dean Cain in the Hallmark Channel Christmas line-up is snow. Because some of the films shoot in the summer, it’s not always possible to achieve that powder naturally. Producers use a variety of tricks to simulate snowfall, including snow blankets that mimic the real thing when laid out; foam; commercial replica snow; crushed limestone; and ice shavings. Actors might also get covered with soapy bubbles for close-ups. The typical budget for snow per movie is around $50,000.

5. There’s a psychological reason why Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are so addictive.

Like a drug, Hallmark Channel Christmas movies provide a neurological reward. Speaking with CNBC in 2019, Pamela Rutledge, behavioral scientist, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, and a faculty member in the Media Psychology department at Fielding Graduate University, explained that the formulaic plots and predictability of the films is rewarding, especially when viewers are trying to unwind from the stress of the holiday season. “The lack of reality at all levels, from plot to production, signals that the movies are meant to be escapism entertainment,” Rutledge said. “The genre is well-defined, and our expectations follow. This enables us to suspend disbelief.”

6. Hallmark Channel Christmas movie fans now have their own convention.

Call it the Comic-Con of holiday cheer. This year, fans of Hallmark Channel’s Christmas programming got to attend ChristmasCon, a celebration of all things Hallmark in Edison, New Jersey. Throngs of people gathered to attend panels with movie actors and writers, scoop up merchandise, and vie for prizes during an ugly sweater competition. The first wave of $50 admission tickets sold out instantly. Hallmark Channel USA was the official sponsor.

7. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are helping keep cable afloat.

Actors Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas are pictured in a publicity still from the 2017 Hallmark Channel original movie 'Miss Christmas'
Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas in Miss Christmas (2017).
Hallmark Channel

In an era of cord-cutting and streaming apps, more and more people are turning away from cable television, preferring to queue up programming when they want it. But viewers of Hallmark Channel’s holiday offerings often tune in as the movie is airing. In 2016, 4 million viewers watched the line-up “live.” One reason might be the communal nature of the films. People tend to watch holiday-oriented programming in groups, tuning in as they air. The result? For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Hallmark Channel was the most-watched cable network among women 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, even outpacing broadcast network programming on Saturday nights.

8. You can get paid to watch Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

If you think you have the constitution to make it through 24 Hallmark Channel holiday films in 12 days, you might want to consider applying for the Hallmark Movie Dream Job contest, which is sponsored by Internet Service Partners and will pay $1000 to the winning entrant who seems most capable of binging the two dozen films and making wry comments about them on social media. You can enter though December 6 here.

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