The Philippine Star

Jackie Chan: The Last Kick

Jackie’s latest starrer, Chinese Zodiac (bottom), brought to Filipino fans by Star Cinema, marks his final bow as an action star. ‘It’s my New Year treat to my fans around the world,’ he says as he welcomes the Year of Water Snake that starts on Feb. 1

- with Ricky Lo

“I am standing in the sky on the roof of a glass-and-steel office tower in Rotterdam, Holland. There are 21 floors of air between me and the concrete pavement below. I am about to do what I do best. I am about to jump.”

That’s Jackie Chan quoted (movie not mentioned) in the inside front cover of his autobiogra­phy I Am Jackie Chan (published in 1998). Of course, as his fans around the world know, Jackie has jumped and done all other death-defying stunts in all of his movies, one of them, in Armour of God (1986), almost sent him to Kingdom Come.

In his book, Jackie (who suffered from brain hemorrhage) recalled, “This movie almost killed me! In a sequence shot in Yugoslavia, I fell from a tree while attempting a routine stunt and landed on some rocks which punctured my skull. I was rushed to the hospital, they did some surgery, and now I have a plastic plug in my head.”

Twelve years after that accident, in 1998, when I first interviewe­d Jackie in New York for Rush Hour, his first solo Hollywood starrer (after Battle Creek Brawl, his Hollywood debut in 1980, followed by a few more including the two Cannonball Run flicks in quick succession), I asked Jackie if the hole on his head was still there. He took my hand and guided it to the back of his head and sure enough, it was there… like the tender spot on the head of a newly-born baby. For a while, I was afraid that my finger would sink into it.

Since then, I have interviewe­d Jackie five more times (once in Hong Kong) and always, he was physically expressive, compensati­ng for loss of words by demonstrat­ing what he meant, even if he had to stand on top of a table to do a flying kick. Funny guy, him! Always down-to-earth, accessible, never showing even the slightest sign of air-headedness

That’s what Jackie Chan says in the chapter titled My Aches and Pains of his autobiogra­phy (pictured, in which he describes in detail that near-fatal accident during the Armour of God shoot in Yugoslavia):

“I was still recovering from the jet lag of flying 24 hours to get there. The stunt was simple — just jumping down from a castle wall to a tree below. The first time I tried it, the stunt went perfectly, but I wasn’t satisfied with the take. I tried it again, and the second time, I somehow missed the branch I was trying to grab. Whish! I fell past the tree and onto the ground below. Actually, there was a cameraman down there trying to capture a low angle, and if he hadn’t scrambled out of the way, I would have probably landed on him. We would both have been hurt, but not badly. Instead, I hit the rocky ground head first. A piece of my skull cracked and shot up unto my brain, and blood poured from my ears. The production team quickly got on the phones to try to find the nearest hospital that could do emergency brain surgery, and eight hours later, I was going under the knife. The operation was successful, and I recovered quickly — even though there’s a permanent hole in my head now, with a plastic plug there to keep my brains in.”

In the same chapter, Jackie enumerated some of his other (less) serious injuries, to wit:

Other than the brain hemorrhage I suffered on Armour of God, I’ve hit my head and injured it many times. I was actually knocked completely unconsciou­s while working as a stuntman on Hand of Death.

The Armour of God fall also left me hard-of-hearing in one ear.

On Drunken Master, my brow ridge was injured, and I nearly lost an eye.

You’d think that Someone Up There had it in for me and my nose! It’s bad enough that it’s so big to begin with, but I’ve actually broken it at least three times — on The Young Master, Project A, and, most recently, Mr. Nice Guy.

While making Supercop, I dislocated a cheekbone. I didn’t even know you could do that.

Hwang Jang Lee is a tremendous kicker…as I found out when he kicked out one of my teeth (accidental­ly) while we were making Snake in Eagle’s Shadow.

I injured my chin on Dragon Lord. It was painful even talking for a while. Which made it hard to direct, not to mention act.

During The Young Master, I was almost suffocated when I injured my throat.

I’ve hurt my neck a lot, but my worst neck injuries happened during the clock-tower fall in Project A, and after I messed up a flip during Mr. Nice.

During The Protector, I hurt my hand and finger bones — adding injury to insult.

While I was shooting a fight scene in Snake in Eagle’s Shadow, my arm was accidental­ly slashed by a sword that should have had a blunted edge. Blood went everywhere, and I fell down screaming…and the camera kept on rolling! That’s real pain you see in

I dislocated my shoulder while making City Hunter.

the movie!

On Armour of God II: Operation Condor, I dislocated my sternum after I fell from a hanging chain. That’s another bone I didn’t know you could dislocate, but somehow I managed to do it.

I’ve had a lot of back injuries doing my movies, but the pole-slide scene in Police Story almost paralyzed me when I nearly broke the seventh and eighth vertebrae in my spine.

Also during the pole-slide stunt, I dislocated my pelvis. I guess you’re wondering just how many weird bones a person can dislocate. Sometimes, it seems like I’ve changed them all.

I crushed my legs while shooting Crime Story, after getting caught between two cars.

I’ve hurt my knees so often that I wonder whether there’s even any cartilage left in them. (If you think I run a little funny, that’s a part of the reason why.) It makes any stunt in which I have to jump harder, but I do my best anyway. Would you expect anything less? One of my worst injuries occurred during City Hunter, while I was shooting a skateboard chase.

I broke my ankle while jumping onto a hovercraft in Rumble in the Bronx. After the bone was set and a cast was put on, I was told to stay off my feet until it healed. But I had a movie to finish! I went back to the set and put a sock on my broken foot, painted to look like a sneaker.

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Jackie: A Horse according to the Chinese calendar (born April 7,
The young Jackie: A Horse according to the Chinese calendar (born April 7, 1954)
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