Jackie Chan is one of the most accomplished and successful actors in Hollywood history. Since his early days as a stuntman, Jackie has appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows and become one of the highest-grossing stars in entertainment history. From his Guinness World Records to the plastic plug in his head, here’s some Jackie Chan trivia that you probably didn’t know about the international film star.
1Jackie Chan Is A Devoted Environmentalist
After seeing the incredible amounts of waste created on movies sets, Jackie vowed to do something to help the environment. He advocated for both using recycled materials and reducing waste during filming and even encourages “up-cycling” movie materials whenever possible.
One of the creative ways that Jackie found to reuse movie sets, was turning them into art. He collects interesting materials for artists at the Jackie Chan Creation and Art Center (JCCAAC). The artists collaborate with Jackie to promote a culture of environmental sustainability through art.
In January 2019, Jackie brought a special collection of art from the JCCAAC to The Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City, Utah for the “Jackie Chan: Green Hero” exhibit.
2He’s An Accomplished Singer
Jackie trained to be a singer in boarding school, a skill that he has made part of many of his film projects. In 1980, he had an opportunity to sing the theme song for his film The Young Master. After that, Jackie began singing songs during the closing credits of most of his Chinese-produced movies. Disney also had Jackie sing the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” for the Chinese versions of the animated film Mulan (1998).
In addition to singing in his films, Jackie has also released dozens of music albums. Some highlights from his singing career include receiving Japan’s Best Foreign Singer Award and performing a song at the closing ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
3Jackie Chan Was A Bad Martial Arts Student
Jackie Chan’s sifu, Yu Jim-Yuen, was a very strict martial arts master. Although Jackie made an impression on him, Jackie was never was able to meet his master’s exceptions. Jim-Yuen has gone on record saying that Jackie Chan was “not the best” student under his instruction.
4Jackie Invented The Kung Fu Comedy Genre
Multiple movie producers repeatedly attempted to mold Jackie into another Bruce Lee. They were unsuccessful. Like many martial artists, Jackie idolized Bruce Lee. But Jackie’s martial arts style was just too different from Lee’s.
On the film Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978), Jackie finally had an opportunity to choreograph his own stunts. The experience proved to be a breakthrough for Jackie. He used both his martial arts knowledge and physical comedy skills to create the first kung fu comedy film. Instead of just fighting with his fists and feet like Bruce Lee, Jackie used stunt acrobatics and props in his fight scenes.
Jackie successfully repeated this formula on several Chinese films before trying to break into the American market. His first American films, Big Brawl (1980) and The Protector (1985) were both box office flops. Similar to what Jackie experienced on movie sets in China, American directors expected Jackie to fight like Bruce Lee. They wanted formulaic fight scenes that featured a series of fast punches highlighted with kicks. Jackie wouldn’t get an opportunity to choreograph his own stunts and fight scenes on an American film set until Rumble In The Bronx (1995).
5Jackie Chan Never Plays Villains
Many actors jump back and forth between playing the hero and the villain. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger played both a villain and a hero in The Terminator film franchise. But Jackie Chan is always the good guy. Just like Chuck Norris, he made it a point in his career to avoid villain roles.
6Jackie Did All Of His Own Stunts… Until He Turned 60
After turning 60 in 2014, Jackie announced that he no longer would be performing his own death-defying stunts. After years of movie making and incurring countless damage points, Jackie said that Chinese Zodiac (2012) would be the last time that he would perform all of his own stunts. Even though the film was panned by critics, it was one of the highest grossing domestic films in China.
7Jackie Chan Holds The Record For Most Film Credits In A Single Movie
Jackie holds several Guinness World Records. One of them is for the most film credits in a single movie. In his 2012 film, Chinese Zodiac, he was the writer, lead actor, director, producer, executive producer, cinematographer, art director, unit production manager, stunt coordinator, prop man, gaffer, composer, theme song vocalist, catering coordinator, and stuntman.
8How Many Bones Has Jackie Chan Broken? Too Many To Count
Has Jackie Chan broken every bone in his body? No, but it’s pretty close. Jackie famously performed most of his own stunts throughout his career and he has the broken bones and injuries to prove it.
Jackie broke his nose at least 3 times. His fingers and hands countless times. His knees were injured so often that by the age of 50, he no longer was able to run and needed a body double to do his running scenes.
But one of his scariest injuries happened while filing The Accidental Spy (2001). Jackie fell so hard on his tailbone during a stunt that he experienced temporary paralysis.
And these are just the broken bones. Throughout his career, Jackie also dislocated many parts of his body including his pelvis, sternum and both shoulders among others. He’s also severely cut and burned numerous parts of his body.
9Jackie Chan Was A Bouncer Before He Got A Tooth Stuck In His Hand
One of the reasons that Jackie Chan learned martial arts, was because he originally wanted to be a nightclub bouncer. But he changed his mind after a nasty scuffle at a club where someone’s tooth got lodged in his hand.
“I learned to do martial arts when I was young and I wanted to be a bouncer. But after one particular fight, I learned that if you hurt someone you can actually hurt yourself. I had a scuffle with someone and two days later I found out his tooth was still in my hand – I thought there was a problem with my bone” Jackie told Britain’s Sunday Mirror newspaper in 2010. “I didn’t know if I’d killed the guy or just knocked him down and I was petrified for a whole month. Every day I read the newspapers to find out if I’d killed someone.”
10Jackie Chan Is Blacklisted By Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are not fans of Jackie Chan’s stunt work and his frequent injuries. After being turned down by multiple insurance companies, Jackie decided to just fund all medical bills for his stunt team himself. If he or someone on his stunt team is injured, Jackie pays out of pocket for their medical needs.
11Jackie Is A Perfectionist
While on the set filing Dragon Lord (1982), it took Jackie almost 3,000 takes to get one shot. In the infamous scene, he needed to first kick a feathered shuttlecock into the air twice before sending into the goal during a game of Jianzi.
“I’ll film the movement until it’s the way I like it” Jackie said in an interview about the incident. “That way, I know my fans will like it.”
For his efforts on the set of Dragon Lord, Guinness World Records awarded Jackie the record for the most takes for a single movie scene.
12Jackie Chan Has A Plastic Plug Holding His Brains In His Skull
Jackie almost died while filming an easy stunt for the film Armor of God (1986) in Yugoslavia. The stunt called for Jackie to jump from a wall to a tree. He successfully completed the shot on the first try. But the self-admitted perfectionist wanted to try the shot again. On the second attempt, he missed the tree and fell 40 feet to the ground below.
“I fell past the tree and hit the rocky ground head first. A piece of my skull cracked and shot up into my brain, and blood poured from my ears. The production team quickly got on the phones to try to find the nearest hospital that could do emergency brain surgery. Eight hours later, I was going under the knife. The operation was successful, and I recovered quickly — even though there’s a permanent hole in my head now, with a plastic plug there to keep my brains in.”
In addition to the plastic plug, Jackie also lost partial hearing in his right ear from the incident.
13Jackie Jumped Off A Building Without Any Safety Gear… Just Two Cloth Awnings
In the film Project A (1983), Jackie paid homage to one of his heroes, legendary comedy actor, Harold Lloyd. In Safety Last (1923), Lloyd famously climbed a building and hung from a clock face for one of the most dangerous stunts of the silent film era.
But Jackie’s homage to his hero would be much more dangerous. For the stunt, Jackie hung 60 feet in the air from a clock face before falling with only two cloth awnings between him and the street below. Jackie was reportedly so nervous about the stunt that he hung on until his hands eventually gave way. Jackie successfully completed the stunt on the first try, but ever the perfectionist, he decided to redo it. On the second attempt, he severely injured his neck and broke his nose.
14His Film ‘Nosebleed’ Was Never Released Because of The September 11th Attacks
In 2001, Jackie Chan was in the middle of pre-production for a film called Nosebleed. The movie was about a window washer at the World Trade Center that stops a terrorist attack. The initial script was written by Jackie, Raven Metzner, and Stu Zicherman. Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) was set to direct and Steven Spielberg was interested in producing. Production on Nosebleed was halted after the attacks on September 11th took place. Attempts to rewrite the script were abandoned and the film was canceled.
15Jackie Can Communicate in 10+ Languages
As a native from Hong Kong, Jackie Chan grew up speaking Cantonese, Mandarin and some English. But as his film career took him around the world, Jackie learned to speak several other languages including Taiwanese, German, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, and Thai as well as American Sign Language.