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NUMBER 5

Project A

Director: Jackie Chan

Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

Year: 1983

IMDB Rating 7.5/10

This entry is a massive cop out. Even though I’ve titled the article with the name of the 1983 film, it’s just an excuse for me to talk about one of my favourite performers, the daredevil legend that is Jackie Chan.

Chinese cinema is a different animal compared to the films from our side of the globe and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, one particular Chinese actor managed to engage western audiences; his name was Bruce Lee. Very quickly, movie producers in both America and China were trying to emulate Bruce Lee’s success, especially after the man died in 1973. A young stunt man called Chan Kong-sang, who actually worked alongside Lee, decided he wasn’t going to try and be the next Bruce Lee, but rather become a martial artist film star that incorporated more comedy in his performance.

Now I won’t go into Jackie Chan’s life story (there is a book available for that), but once I eventually saw him in a film, I was eager to watch his earlier work. While Jackie Chan had made it big in the 1990s and early 2000s with American-made films like Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, his filmography from the 1980s always proved to be an entertaining watch. These films are always pure Jackie Chan and how he’s meant to be seen. The fight scenes are always bigger, the stunts are more daring, and the stories are usually more entertaining than the generic action films Hollywood tends to put him in.

Jackie Chan grew up in a performing arts school alongside other martial artists who he would occasionally work with throughout his career. Project A is one of the films that happens to feature Jackie Chan alongside two of his school buddies (above). The film is set in the 1800s in Old Hong Kong and tells the story of pirates and the law enforcers trying to suppress them. Inspired by the work of classic comedy actors such Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, the film features a stunt where Chan free falls 60 feet from a clock tower before landing on his head (he did three takes); funnily enough this isn’t the stunt that nearly killed him.

Project A represents my love for the action movie genre, which now relies heavily on guns, explosions and quick editing. Project A doesn’t feature much if any of those aspects; it’s pure entertaining action from start to finish. Project A also represents my love for Chan’s films; a genre in its own right. At the age of 61, Chan still performs his own stunts and choreographs fight scenes, although he has claimed that he’s going to be performing fewer stunts and being more careful in as his twilight years approach. So in a way Jackie Chan is my number five, but since a man can’t be a film, Project A takes this entry.

Watch the famous clock tower fall (three individual takes!):

Watch Jackie Chan wield a bike like a baseball bat:

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