The transcript below is from the video “Jackie Chan: Why the Action Star is Hated in Hong Kong” by VICE Asia.

VICE Asia:

To many in the West, Jackie Chan is a martial arts star and action hero. But back in his birthplace of Hong Kong, he remains deeply unpopular—particularly among the embattled city’s pro-democracy movement. This is the story of a complex Chinese actor.

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Jackie Chan is one of the world’s biggest celebrities. He starred in movies…

[Scene from “First Strike” (1996)]

…cartoons

[Scene from “Jackie Chan Adventures” (2000-2005)]

…and even commercials.

[Scene from a Mountain Dew Commercial (1997)]

But while he’s loved in the West…

[Scene from Good Morning America TV Show]

…back home in Hong Kong, it’s a really different story”.

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“I think he’s a traitor to democracy and freedom of Hong Kong. He’s a traitor to the Hong Kong people.”

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“Jackie Chan the person today, in the year 2020, he’s not popular. He’s ridiculed. People don’t want to hear what he has to say. Just because a lot of what he says is so unintelligent.”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“How do we get from this…

[Scene from Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong Tour (2011)]

…to this…

[Picture of a Tweet from Hong Kong World City]

…is because of statements like this.”

Voice from NTD News, New Tang Dynasty Television:

“Jackie Chan, the actor said that Hong Kong has become a hotbed for protest, and it needs to change. He says there should be regulations on what people can and can’t protest. He did not say who should make those decisions”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Jackie Chan is a proud supporter of China’s Communist Party and he’s a vocal critic of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.”

Jackie Chan:

“(Spoken in Chinese but translated on the screen) Recently, there have been events in Hong Kong that have made people sad and depressed. I feel the pride of being a Chinese everywhere, the Five-starred Red Flag is respected worldwide.”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Now in 2020, it’s become a recurring story for many Chinese celebrities to land in hot water over expressing anti-Hong Kong views. But Jackie Chan is different because unlike mainland celebrities like Liu Yifei, for a really long time he was considered to be one of Hong Kong’s favorite sons.”

[Scene from “Police Story”]

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“We think about the unique Hong Kong identity and that identity which, you know, which really came into being in post-war Hong Kong, was rooted in Hong Kong’s popular culture. And Jackie Chan has long been a part of that. So, if you watch a 1980s or 1990s, you know, film or even earlier ones by Jackie Chan, you actually see a Jackie Chan that is very pro Hong Kong, that is very much an embodiment of the Hong Kong spirit.”

[Scene from “Police Story”]

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“He actually, uh, grew up in a society that has long cherished freedoms. He made a very conscious decision to completely flip-flop on his political positions. Most Hong Kongers would remember in 1989, when there were popular protests during protests at Tiananmen Square, which eventually led to the massacre, that there was a concert held in Hong Kong called the ‘Concert for Democracy’ in China. And Jackie Chan actually participated in that concert, in Hong Kong, on May 27, 1989.”

[Jackie Chan singing at the “Concert for Democracy”]

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“So, so, so, I think we really talked about two Jackie Chans here. There’s the Jackie Chan in the popular imagination, the hero, the, um, the protagonist, the democracy loving guy. And then this, the Jackie Chan, you know, in reality, who is pro-China, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, who is an affront to democracy and talks too much nonsense, right? This is sort of like the evolution of Jackie Chan, is in it, you know, in and of itself, a sad story, because it is so much an analogy of how much Hong Kong has changed. And it is, you know, when, when people say they like Jackie Chan in Hong Kong, most of the time, they are reminiscing a past, um, that is long gone.”

[Scene from “The Legend of Drunken Master”]

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“He came of age during a really important time in Hong Kong’s history. His parents fled mainland China, to escape the cultural revolution, to settle down in British Hong Kong. In the 1970s, Jackie Chan was just a young stunt man, trying to make his way in Hong Kong’s rising film industry. It was there that he met another Hong Kong martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, a man who would later come to represent the pro-democracy movement in a very different way. You can actually see them both together in this scene from, ‘Enter the Dragon’.”

[Scene from “Enter the Dragon”]

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Hong Kong’s film industry was on the verge of blowing up.”

[Trailer of “Enter the Dragon”]

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Everyone knew that if you wanted to make serious money, your best bet was in Hollywood.”

Interviewer:

“So, now here you are, this huge American star, do you want to continue working here in the States?”

Bruce Lee:

“Of course, you know. American Hollywood is the face everybody dreams, oh, everybody at the actual screen.”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“But today that’s no longer true. China is close to overtaking the U.S. to become the world’s biggest and most lucrative market. In 2019 alone, China brought in $11.05 billion, just a billion-dollar short of revenue, from the U.S. Even before the pandemic, shut down movie theaters, China was already on its way to overtaking the U.S. in terms of ticket sales. This sends pretty big shock waves through the industry. Hollywood wants the biggest slice of the Chinese market. And for Hong Kong celebrities, this means scoring a blockbuster in Beijing not Boston.”

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“So, for an actor like Jackie Chan, it makes economic sense for him to appeal to this Chinese market.”

Jackie Chan:

“(Spoken in Chinese but translated on the screen) Chinese film is experiencing a golden era.”

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“Actors, actresses, even if you weren’t explicitly pro China, you would probably have wanted to tone down your pro-democracy advocacy. Because you need access to China, and you don’t want to get into trouble. But even considering this broader context, I would say that Jackie Chan does go out of his way to be politically outspoken in favor of the Chinese government. So, I think, he genuinely believes Hong Kong and Taiwan ought to be a part of China, and he genuinely believes that the Chinese Communist Party, is a force of good for China. I think he understands his value to the regime for propaganda purposes. And you know, again, selling China to the world. I think he knows that he plays that role. But I think he also knows that in exchange for doing all these things, you know, he’s one of the best paid actors in the world. He, he enjoys international popularity. I mean, outside of Hong Kong, in most places, if not everywhere, he’s quite popular.”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Jackie Chan’s waning popularity sends another cultural shift in the city, a growing distrust of the police. The actor has played a cop at least 16 times in some of his biggest most iconic films.”

[Scene from “Police Story”]

Jeffrey Ngo (Pro-Democracy Activist):

“The ‘Police Story’ franchise, you know, very well known in Hong Kong, it’s his image on film has always been a cop. So, for someone whose on-screen image is so rooted in the Hong Kong police force, uh, to also come out in support of the Hong Kong police force, it seems to make a lot of sense. Police, uh, for decades have had a pretty good image in the world in you know, in terms of its relations with the public. And so, what has changed in a sense then, it’s the perception of the police force. Increasingly this idea that the force is not used to protect the people of Hong Kong but to harm the people of Hong Kong, and so their popularity, um, has quickly evaporated and now it’s, you know, sort of, you know, paramilitary. It is seen as the sort of force that legitimizes the Chinese government’s control of Hong Kong.”

Heather Chen from VICE Asia:

“Badiucao, is a Chinese dissident who lives in Australia. He targets the Chinese Communist Party and its allies, including Jackie Chan.”

[Scene from “The Legend of Drunken Master”]

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“I’d be lying if I say I never liked his movie, I mean, he was quite huge in China, especially for his early movies.”

[Scene from “The Legend of Drunken Master”]

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“For Jackie Chan, I think there are different sides of him. Well, there are positive sides like he did, introducing at least the Hong Kong movie or Hong Kong style of aesthetics in the big screen to the Western World. However, he’s always this kind of single-sided hero, you know, and we all know this stereotype of Asians, and we all try to break this bamboo ceiling. Because in society, as Asian members. So, I think, that’s definitely a double-edged sword.”

[Scene from “Rush Hour 3”]

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“Well, as an artist I feel, uh, heavily that I should carry certain social responsibility. And artists should working on something we truly care about. And I’m born in China and now I have the freedom to live in Australia at the moment. So, I feel obligated to continuing, you know, focusing on those important issues. Without freedom of speech and those basic rights, you can’t make any good art. The Chinese government, they know how to run propaganda…”

[Scene from “The Founding of a Republic”]

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“…always. And they know the value of their stars. So, they’re using them as tourists to promoting the Chinese image, to kind of brainwash its citizens and residents.”

[Scene from “The Founding of a Republic”]

Badiucao (Political Cartoonist):

“And also telling the world that is okay. Because our beloved movie stars are saying we love Chinese government and we agree on its policy, as well. So, you either be the friend of Chinese government and the enemy of the democracy, or you’re sitting and standing with the Hong Kongers or Tibetan side, the fighting for the basic human rights. And apparently, so many statements, public statement has shown us that Jackie Chan chose his side.”

[Scene from “Rush Hour 2”]




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