The transcript below is from the video “How Jackie Chan Changed Kung Fu (Video Essay)” by Teller Creations.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

The adoption of Jackie Chan and the cinematic techniques from Eastern cinema, have introduced a transnational label to the kung fu genre. Jackie Chan, born Chan Kong-sang, is a Hong Kong actor famous for his stunt work and action comedy films. Chan gained fame in Hong Kong after starring in Yuen Woo-ping’s ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ and ‘Drunken Master’. These two practically identical films, established Chan as a comedic actor who had a talent for martial arts stunts with the films established in the comedic kung fu genre in Hong Kong cinema. Though Chan’s original attempt to break out into the Western film market with failures such as, ‘The Big Brawl’ in 1980, and ‘The Protector’ in 1985, proved unsuccessful, his experience of these American films including Needham’s 1981 film, ‘The Cannonball Run’ inspired his later films.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

‘Police Story’ was written and directed by Jackie Chan starring himself in the lead role of ‘Inspector Chan Ka-Kui’ a police officer who often lets his own predictable nature get the best of him. Chan would reprise all roles of writer, director and lead actor in the 1988 sequel, ‘Police Story 2’. Continuing the story from the first film. These two films were critically and commercially successful. And attributed to Chan’s popularity and success throughout the rest of the 80’s to the late 90’s.

Having become successful in Asia, his films were exported to Western markets which allowed him another attempt to transfer into the Western market. These exports allowed for Western audiences ranging from middle-class to lower-class citizens to view his films. Chan’s first Western Box Office success came of the release of ‘Rush Hour’ in 1998. And started the franchise directed by Brett Ratner and co-starring Chris Tucker. The Ratner Trilogy continued with ‘Rush Hour 2’ in 2001 and ‘Rush Hour 3’ in 2007. Each gained Box Office success. Even if not so critically regarded.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

Additionally, his films have appealed to many cultural audiences. From those who admire his stunt work, to those who can relate to his characters. This appeal has gained him a global audience and has allowed not just for commercial successes but for him to have a freedom of choice in projects and to have fun with these projects. Overall, Chan’s successful integration into Hollywood cinema, has allowed for a new incorporation of the kung fu genre. Hong Kong cinema has played a formative rather than marginal role in shaping action cinema. Pioneering the landscape with its 1970’s kung fu craze, that is most commonly associated with Bruce Lee, this transnational cinematic landscape has introduced the world to new forms of cinematic expression.

Jackie Chan’s rise to fame came from 1978’s ‘Drunken Master’ which formulated the story of an immature young fighter who must train with the Drunken Master in order to earn his father’s respect. The film utilizes action and comedy, mostly led by Chan’s character of ‘Wong Fei Hung’ and established Chan’s style of practical comedy during action set pieces.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

‘Police Story’ was written and directed by Jackie Chan. Likewise with its sequel, ‘Police Story 2’. And focused itself on a local setting. Chan plays, ‘Inspector Chan Ka-Kui’ who is ideally a very average police officer who has the knack for getting into trouble. He is not a very original character, but his appeal stems from his characteristics of being someone whose overheated emotionally but is exceptional at their job which adds to the comedy and drama present in the films.

Chan himself is talented in the art of martial arts, specifically, wushu/kung fu and hapkido. And has a wide comedic range from comedic punchlines to comedic punches. The film showcase fight scenes and stunt heavy scenes as much as possible whilst still relying on character and story to drive it along and keep it coherent and enjoyable. However, the films are inspired by American action cinema mostly due to Chan’s personal history of Western cinema and cleverly utilizes the everyday hero narrative and acting type to enforce the idea that everyone can be like Ka-Kui. Ka-Kui is a police officer but is relatable to a global audience as he’s just like anyone else. Even to the point that his fighting style is common among his enemies which adds to the physical challenge that the character faces. He’s an officer who believes in values imposed by the authority.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

Additionally, Chan’s films especially the ‘Police Story’ franchise, linger on a common theme regarding the threat of violence from modern technology and the body. This can be seen in ‘Police Story’ when Ka-Kui forces a bus with criminals inside it to stop by standing in front of it as it drives down-hill side. And in ‘Police Story 2’ as the main villains utilized technology to destroy local establishments and kill civilians specifically with explosives. This adds to the modern style of the film making and context of plot devices in correlation with Chan’s old-fashioned fighting style.

His fighting style coincides with his common theme through use of fighting primarily using only his body. He doesn’t play the action hero who blasts down enemies with a sub-machine gun instead opts to utilize his surroundings to assist his combat. For example, using a chair or a metal pole. Furthermore, the comedic elements all come from Chan’s character. From his awkward and often embarrassing mistakes to the improvised devices and weapons he uses in his fights.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

In her book, ‘The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora’, Kin-Yan Szeto describes Jackie Chan as someone who…”

Kin-Yan Szeto – Author of “The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora”:

“…exhibits various forms of knowledge and action that are cosmopolitical.”

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

“She describes his broad appeal in international markets that rose from Asia to the United States, Europe and then the rest of the world. His reach further indicates his broad appeal across national and cultural lines. This has led Chan to become a person who asserts a high degree of creative control in regards to his film projects as he has been credited as star, director, writer, producer and choreographer. There is more than enough evidence to observe the talent and attention Chan has to his work. Szeto states that…”

Kin-Yan Szeto – Author of “The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora”:

“[Chan’s] cosmopolitics show how British colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Western Orientalism and Imperialism [have] shaped [Chan’s] complex identity and film persona.”

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

“By this she means that Jackie Chan’s identity has been shaped by the many influences of his culture, that of Hong Kong’s natural culture which is something that has been shaped and influenced by external forces for years. The result of this as Szeto explains is that…”

Kin-Yan Szeto – Author of “The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora”:

“Chan has not been a passive victim of these forces but instead has developed cosmopolitical consciousness strategically in navigating through them.”

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

Lastly Szeto identifies the main ideals of Chan’s comedic aspects arguing that his humor is transnational in nature. Based on a physical and comedian incentive performance style, a comic displacement of Hegemonic notions of distinctiveness, allow for Chan to approach his films with a creative and even subversive charm. Overall, Jackie Chan’s work in Hong Kong cinema allowed him to not just evolve his craft globally but to understand how to relate to a global audience for his own cosmopolitical consciousness.

Western cinema dominates the global screen of Hollywood productions. It’s market often has to utilize non-western characteristics to stay relevant. In the late 1990’s to early 2000’s a variety of action-oriented films started to utilize Eastern techniques, styles and actors to appeal to wider audiences and engage a higher profit margin. Originally, the 1970s Kung fu craze which was pioneered by Bruce Lee had a grasp on the Western Box Office unlike any previous foreign cinema. And gave rise to a new and significant genre in American cinema.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

The actor Jackie Chan was originally advertised as a successor for Bruce Lee when he entered the Western Film market after Lee’s untimely death. However, this was changed when Chan engineered a comedy centered persona for his characters unlike the tragic characters of Lee. Jackie Chan became known in America with the release of ‘Rumble in the Bronx’. Again, fame through Brett Ratner’s 1998 film, ‘Rush Hour’. ‘Rush Hour’ and its subsequent sequels starred Chan and Chris Tucker as detectives from their respective parts of the world. A Hong Kong police officer and an LAPD officer. The buddy cop films utilized Chan’s martial arts skills and Tucker’s loudmouth quips to appeal to general audiences whilst utilizing their ethnicities to appeal to more specific audiences.

In Gina Marchetti’s essay, ‘Jackie Chan and the black connection’, she argues that through symbolism…”

Gina Marchetti – Author of “Jackie Chan and the black connection Essay”:

“Rush Hour finally delivers Chan to America.”

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

This is visually identified when in a chasing involving Carter chasing Lee, Lee escapes a two-story tour bus by clinging on to a street sign with the name ‘Hollywood’ on it. Furthermore, this scene symbolised a rise in Eastern influences in the West as seen in the 1999 film, ‘The Matrix’ by the Wachowskis. The Wachowskis’ film utilized film techniques inspired by Japanese animations and martial arts action choreography from Hong Kong films.

Siu-leung LI in his essay, ‘Kung fu: Negotiating Nationalism and Modernity’, expresses concern with the death of Hong Kong kung fu cinema by emphasizing how it has evolved into a transnational art-form. He argues that Jackie Chan and other Hong Kong action stars have helped to transform the kung fu genre into what he calls, kung fu action. LI believes that among a more international backdrop, kung fu has become a universal action choreography that is easily distributed internationally.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

This more or less invokes the idea that even though Jackie Chan successfully incorporated himself and his style of action and comedy into America, it also allowed for a stereotype of this action, a form of martial arts that has recurred strongly for two decades. Take for example the Marvel films whose action choreography involves a lot of martial arts as the generic form of action fighting as to Western audiences it appears as something extra-normal and exotic and allows for a bigger wow factor during fight scenes than the usual Western gun-heavy or fist-heavy action.

LI concludes that the adoption of kung fu by known Hong Kong film makers has given it a contemporary stance outside of its historical context in films such as, ‘The Matrix’. This presents Hong Kong culture in a cosmopolitan light which LI argues confirms the death of Hong Kong kung fu cinema.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

Lastly, Hollywood’s adoption of the kung fu cinema has given more accessibility to the genre. For example, Peichi Chung argues in her essay, ‘Hollywood domination of the Chinese kung fu market’, that because of the popularity that the Hollywood formula has given to the kung fu genre it has allowed for a resurgence of Chinese martial arts films. Films like, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, ‘House of the Flying Daggers’ and ‘Hero’ have all gained critical and commercial success whilst leading the new wave of Chinese martial arts films. Chung continues by stating that the…”

Peichi Chung – Author of “Hollywood domination of Chinese kung fu market Essay”:

“Production strategies of Hollywood have not only brought the new Chinese kung fu films to a worldwide audience […] but have also brought Chinese audiences […] back to the movie theaters in local Chinese film markets.”

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

The Hollywood adoption of Eastern cinema its styles and actors like Jackie Chan has led to a new transnational genre as accepted by all audiences. Hong Kong’s kung fu cinema has evolved into a transnational cinematic landscape due to its implementation in Western films. What briefly started in the 1970’s with Bruce Lee’s kung fu craze rise to fame was certified by Jackie Chan’s approach to the kung fu genre. Chan himself has evolved from an advertised successor to Bruce Lee into a creatively controlling figure in the film productions he takes part in. His comedic spin on the kung fu genre and further action genre has allowed for a greater appeal that was once seen of Bruce Lee. His films of ‘Police Story’ and ‘Police Story 2’ saw the implementation of his attempted Hollywood career with his knowledge of Hollywood action films and Hong Kong action films. His later adoption into Western cinema with Brett Ratner’s 1998 film, ‘Rush Hour’ and subsequent sequels, his financial and often critical success.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

The ‘Rush Hour’ franchise along with earlier exports of Chan’s Hong Kong films into the Western market, acquired an audience from minority groups of Asian Americans and Black Americans. This allowed for Chan to succeed more as these minority groups appealed to Chan’s humor and characters as well as cultural diversity that differed from most American films at the time. However, Chan’s fame popularized the Hong Kong led kung fu drama once more in Hollywood and saw the rise of additional Eastern inspired films like, ‘The Matrix’ franchise.

Julian Meyers (Teller Creations is a YouTube Channel Doing Video Essays About Actors And Film Reviews):

The global success of kung fu confirmed its evolution into a transnational genre that found its way back to Eastern screen. Copying the Hollywood formula, Chinese martial arts and kung fu films such as, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, acquired commercial and critical success and re-acquired popularity in Chinese made films.

Ultimately, Jackie Chan became a transnational figure for his adoption success in Hollywood the, ‘Rush Hour’, films became the embodiment of a transnational franchise and kung fu became a transnational genre that marketed success on a global level.




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