Speaking at a Cannes press conference to promote his upcoming film Chinese Zodiac, Jackie Chan told reporters that he’s finished with action movies. More or less.
“This will be my last big action movie,” he said. “The world is too violent now. I love fighting but I hate violence.”
Chan, who is currently 58 years old, has been the biggest name in Chinese action films for nearly four decades, and here in America his name has become synonymous with over-the-top, physics-defying stuntwork — which is doubly impressive considering that the man continues does all of his own stunts. Outside of Bruce Lee, Chan is easily the world’s most well-known martial artist.
After such a successful career, why would Chan abandon the genre that made him such a big name? Simple. He wants to prove that he’s more than an incredibly gifted fighter.
“I want the audience to know I’m not just about fighting, also I can act. And so, day by day, year by year, I said, ‘Right, I’m going to show you the real Jackie Chan,'” he said. “I don’t just want to be an action star, I want to be a true actor. So for the last 10 years I’ve done other films like The Karate Kid, where I’d rather play an old man.”
That said, Chan also stated that he would still be appearing in the sequel to The Karate Kid, as well as Rush Hour 4. It’s conceivable that his roles in these films might skew toward the dramatic, but more realistically, it looks as if Chan isn’t quite done with action just yet.
Normally this would be seen as bad news — Chan is a brilliant action star who possesses both massive amounts of charisma and legitimately impressive fighting skills — but those who have been exposed to Chan’s more recent dramatic work should be excited to see the actor shifting focus. If you need proof of the man’s acting chops, pick up a copy of 2009’s Shinjuku Incident, in which Chan plays a world-weary, menacing, surprisingly complex gang boss. Not only does Chan never once run up the side of a wall in that film, he also turns in a performance that is so excellent it’s almost bewildering to fans of his comedic action work.
Alternately, find a subtitled copy of Little Big Soldier. It’s a bit more action-centric, but Chan does an excellent job of balancing classic slapstick comedy with real emotional depth.
Point being: Jackie Chan is an actor. He’s got the range to do much more than just action movies. We’ll miss his unique brand of choreographed fisticuffs, but we’re also anxiously excited to see what the man does next.