Jackie Chan, a real-life bad­die

Mar­tial arts star Jackie Chan has ad­mit­ted to wom­an­is­ing, gam­bling and vi­o­lent be­hav­iour in a shock­ing mem­oir


HE EARNED him­self a pha­lanx of fans by res­cu­ing damsels in dis­tress and van­quish­ing vil­lains with a daz­zling dis­play of mar­tial arts and an in­fec­tious grin that made it im­pos­si­ble not to love him. But for decades Jackie Chan har­boured dark se­crets be­hind those twinkly eyes.

In an ex­plo­sive mem­oir, first pub­lished in Chi­nese in 2015, the leg­endary ac­tor makes shock­ing ad­mis­sions that make him seem more like the on-screen bad­dies he bat­tled.

In Never Grow Up the 64-year-old Hong Kong-born star ad­mits to fre­quent­ing broth­els, treat­ing the women in his life like dirt and even hurl­ing his tod­dler son across a room in a fit of rage.

He also reg­u­larly drove drunk and once crashed twice in a sin­gle day – first his Porsche in the morn­ing and then his Mercedes-Benz that night – ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of the book pub­lished in the Daily Mail. He blew his earn­ings on gam­bling and pros­ti­tutes and men­tions one woman he reg­u­larly bed­ded but knew only as “Num­ber Nine”. He at­tributes his ap­palling be­hav­iour to his work as a stunt­man be­fore he hit the big time with the 1978 films Snake in the Ea­gle’s Shadow and Drunken Mas­ter. He nearly died on the set of the 1986 film Ar­mour of God when he had to jump from a ledge to a tall tree. He fell and a frag­ment of bone punc­tured his skull. “A lot of peo­ple say, ‘Did you break ev­ery bone [in your ca­reer]?’ I think not ev­ery bone but I can say ev­ery inch of my body got cut, burnt and twisted. But the most se­ri­ous one was in Yu­goslavia when I was mak­ing Ar­mour of God. I al­most died.”

Liv­ing in such a world caused him to be reck­less, he writes.

“We all knew if some­thing went wrong, we wouldn’t live to see the sun rise the next day.”

Of course, Jackie did – but he treated his loved ones badly.

He mar­ried Joan Lin (now 65), a Tai­wanese ac­tress he de­scribes as the love of his life, be­cause she was preg­nant with their child, Jaycee.

In 2015 he put it quite bluntly in an in­ter­view, some­thing he also ac­knowl­edges in his book. “It was an ac­ci­dent which con­ceived Jaycee,” he told China Press. “I’d never thought of get­ting mar­ried, but I felt it was akin to be­ing forced to marry.”

He be­lieved his friends who told him Joan was a gold-dig­ger and had fallen preg­nant on pur­pose.

As a re­sult he “con­stantly thought of ways to keep money from her”.

Once, dur­ing a heated row with her, he grabbed tod­dler Jaycee (now 35) by one hand and flung the boy across the room.

“He’s just a child,” a ter­ri­fied Joan said. “Why did you do that?”

Yet he still has a re­la­tion­ship with the

boy. In 2015 Jaycee was ar­rested on drug charges and spent six months in jail.

Nei­ther of his par­ents vis­ited him but he pre­ferred it that way, he said while mak­ing a pub­lic apol­ogy in Bei­jing, China, after his re­lease. “I don’t want my mis­takes to af­fect my fa­ther. I must apol­o­gise for my own mis­takes.”

JACKIE was born Chan Kong-sang to im­pov­er­ished refugees from the Chi­nese Civil War. His par­ents, Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, were so des­per­ate for money they al­most sold their baby son to a wealthy Bri­tish cou­ple, Jackie says. Charles even­tu­ally found work as a chef and when Jackie was six, his par­ents im­mi­grated to Aus­tralia – but they soon sent him away to the China Drama Academy board­ing school.

It was here he learnt mar­tial arts and ac­ro­bat­ics as well as act­ing, singing and per­form­ing in a rig­or­ous sched­ule that saw stu­dents up at the crack of dawn after six hours of sleep.

While Jackie ex­celled at mar­tial arts, he never learnt to read or write or do maths, which still fills him with shame.

To this day his black Amer­i­can Ex­press card has no sig­na­ture on the back be­cause Jackie can’t even write his own name.

He made sev­eral films over the years but be­came a main­stream Hol­ly­wood hit when he starred op­po­site Chris Tucker in the pop­u­lar Rush Hour movies.

It was around that time he re­leased his first au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Ac­tion.

It spoke about the strug­gles he’d en­dured over the years and briefly touched on his ar­ro­gance – but was nowhere near as ex­plo­sive as his new book.

As he sky­rock­eted to star­dom and the bucks came rolling in with hits, Jackie couldn’t shake the “big chip” on his shoul­der.

“I started to carry large amounts of cash at all times,” he says. “After you live in poverty cash gives you a sense of se­cu­rity. I like hav­ing lots of peo­ple around me and ev­ery meal was with a big gang.”

In one year the Rush Hour star spent an eye-wa­ter­ing $2 mil­lion (R28 mil­lion) pay­ing for other peo­ple’s food.

He in­dulged him­self too, buy­ing ev­ery­thing his heart de­sired – in­clud­ing a pet tiger cub, al­though he got rid of it after it scratched his face.

But Jackie felt at odds with his fame and for­tune.

He re­calls dat­ing “classier” Tai­wanese ac­tress Teresa Teng and act­ing out when she took him to a fancy French restau­rant.

“She or­dered red wine, I in­sisted on hav­ing beer. When our soup ar­rived she dipped her spoon el­e­gantly into the bowl while I picked up my bowl and drank straight from it.”

When they left he told her, in no un­cer­tain terms: “Never bring me to this sort of restau­rant again.”

“I be­haved so badly be­cause of my deep in­se­cu­ri­ties. Ever since I was a lit­tle boy I’d been looked down on by rich kids.

“Any whiff of snob­bish­ness or su­pe­ri­or­ity set me on edge.”

THEN there was Jackie’s scan­dalous af­fair with former Miss Asia Elaine Ng Yi Lei, who was nearly 20 years his ju­nior, while he was mar­ried to Joan.

The cou­ple’s fling made head­lines in 1999 – as did the later birth of their daugh­ter, Etta Ng.

At a press con­fer­ence he ad­mit­ted to the af­fair and said he’d “made a mis­take men around the world have made”.

In the book he re­calls how he’d looked at him­self in the mir­ror then and said: “You’re a real bas­tard.”

De­spite the no-holds-barred, mea culpa ap­proach of his book, Jackie makes no men­tion of his daugh­ter Etta (19).

It seems for all his de­sire to clean up his act, he never made an ef­fort to have a re­la­tion­ship with her.

Etta’s mom, Elaine, once said Jackie, who’s worth an es­ti­mated $370 mil­lion (R5,18 bil­lion), has never con­trib­uted to their daugh­ter’s up­bring­ing fi­nan­cially.

“He’s not my dad,” Etta once said. “I have no feel­ings for him. He’s my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther but he isn’t in my life.”

So dif­fer­ent from the film hero so many peo­ple love.

ABOVE LEFT: A young Jackie Chan, born Chan Kong-sang, with his par­ents, Charles and Lee-Lee Chan. RIGHT: The mar­tial arts and film star with his son Jaycee and his wife of 36 years, Joan Lin, who stuck by him through his scan­dalous af­fair in 1999. LEFT: Jackie rose to in­ter­na­tional fame with 1998’s Rush Hour along­side Chris Tucker. ABOVE: Jackie al­most died after a stunt for 1986’s Ar­mour of God went hor­ri­bly wrong.

LEFT: His af­fair with Elaine Ng Yi Lei re­sulted in a daugh­ter, Etta Ng. ABOVE: The teen has no re­la­tion­ship with her dad.

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