Can Jackie Chan win with his foray into the rev­o­lu­tion­ary genre?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By XU FAN

A sym­bol of Hong Kong ac­tion films, Jackie Chan is never short of death-de­fy­ing sto­ries. And in his lat­est film, Rail­road Tigers, the 62-year-old kung fu gi­ant again tests his lim­its: He gets onto a mov­ing train to com­bat his en­e­mies.

The scenes are shot in a frigid lo­ca­tion in north­east­ern China where the tem­per­a­tures are mi­nus 20 C.

To cre­ate spec­tac­u­lar vis­ual ef­fects, two gi­gan­tic fans are used to blow at the ac­tors, mak­ing their hair and col­lars move like they are trav­el­ing re­ally fast. But in re­al­ity they are mov­ing at around 20 miles an hour.

“I lay atop the train on a snowy day. But it felt like I was ly­ing on a huge piece of ice. No mat­ter where you fell (for ac­tion scenes), it hurt ter­ri­bly,” says Chan at a re­cent Beijing event.

While Chi­nese main­land fans who are fa­mil­iar with his ac­tion come­dies may not be over­whelmed by the ac­tion scenes, they will surely be sur­prised that Chan is a fan of the old rev­olu- tionary pro­duc­tions, which were very pop­u­lar in the Chi­nese main­land in the ’50s and ’60s.

Dur­ing the event, he sang the movie’s theme song Tan Qi Wo Xin’ai de Tu Pipa (Play My Beloved Chi­nese Lute), a cover ver­sion of a 1950s orig­i­nal.

His old fa­vorites, he says, in­clude The Red De­tach­ment of Women and The White-Haired Girl. Chan says he was at­tracted by these ti­tles when he was young. And this may partly ex­plain why he ex­pressed in­ter­est in star­ring in Rail­road Tigers, a loose re­make of the 1956 Shang­hai Film Stu­dio’s Rail­way Guer­rilla.

The film also marks Chan’s foray into the rev­o­lu­tion­ary genre, once a ter­ri­tory ear­marked ex­clu­sively by main­land di­rec­tors.

Among other sim­i­lar block­busters be­ing made by Hong Kong di­rec­tors are Tsui Hark’s The Tak­ing of Tiger Mountain and Ox­ide Pang Chun’s My War.

Chan’s movie, set in the early 1940s, cen­ters on a squad of or­di­nary peo­ple turned fight­ers who bat­tle the Ja­panese.

The squad, led by a rail­way por-

ter (Chan), whose wife is killed by the Ja­panese, strike the en­emy by at­tack­ing rail­way lines, blast­ing bridges and seiz­ing food meant for Ja­panese troops.

Speak­ing about his plans, Chan says: “I hope I can make a sim­i­lar qual­ity film for global au­di­ences ev­ery year.”

The film, which is set to open across China on Dec 23, will also be re­leased to English-speak­ing mar­kets, such as the United States, the United King­dom, Aus­tralia and New Zealand. The pre­miere dates for the for­eign ter­ri­to­ries, how­ever, have yet to be de­cided.

The film is the third time that Chan is team­ing up with di­rect- or Ding Sheng.

The di­rec­tor ear­lier made two smash hits with Chan — Lit­tle Big Sol­dier (2010) and Po­lice Story 2013.

Ding, who had ear­lier com­pleted the crit­i­cally ac­claimed thriller Sav­ing Mr Wu, says he did the film be­cause he wanted to do some­thing that was not as de­press­ing as his pre­vi­ous movie.

He also says Rail­road Tigers show­cases the essence of Chan: It is a mix of fast punches, ag­ile moves and com­edy.

Re­fer­ring to the old film on which the new one is based, he says: “It ( Rail­way Guer­rilla) is a Red rev­o­lu­tion­ary classic, but (with the new film) we wanted to give au­di­ences some­thing new — with funny scenes and unique ac­tion set-pieces.”

For the movie, nearly 300 peo­ple built the sets, fea­tur­ing a 100ton lo­co­mo­tive and a rail­way sta­tion, and around 1,000 peo­ple took part in the film­ing.

The chore­og­ra­phers also de­vised un­likely “meth­ods” to get aboard a fast mov­ing train: like jump­ing off bam­boo poles and glid­ing from a tall build­ing.

Speak­ing about the movie’s stunts, Ding says: “Tim­ing is very im­por­tant. If ac­tors jump at the wrong mo­ment, they could get stuck on the joint con­nect­ing two rail­road cars. It would then be very dan­ger­ous.”

Typ­i­cally, Chan’s films have al­ways done well at the do­mes­tic box of­fice, but as China’s movie mar­ket en­ters the Spring Festival hol­i­day sea­son, which runs from De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary, many in­dus­try watch­ers are wait­ing to see if the su­per­star still re­tains his Mi­das touch.

Chan has al­ways struck gold at the box of­fice on the main­land. From Red Bronx in 1994 — one of the ear­li­est Hong Kong movies to be re­leased here — to his re­cent hit Skip­trace, Chan has not pro­duced a dud.

Chan’s lat­est film fea­tures heart­throbs Wang Kai and Huang Zi­tao — a big draw for fe­male view­ers. But with Zhang Yi­mou’s The Great Wall and Wong Kar-wai’s See You To­mor­row, also mak­ing their de­buts on Dec 16 and 23, re­spec­tively, it seems Rail­road Tigers will have a bat­tle on its hands.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Hong Kong kung fu gi­ant Jackie Chan stars in the lat­est film Rail­road Tigers, a loose re­make of the 1956 Shang­hai Film Stu­dio’s Rail­way Guer­rilla.

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