Jackie Chan used to be the ultimate figure of aspiration when I was in primary school. He was a real-life superhero that everyone my age wanted to be, with his immaculate martial arts skills, death-defying bravery, and slapstick sense of humor (a staple of his career from the Police Story movies to the Rush Hour trilogy, and so on).
Much to my amazement, the Chinese actor, producer, director, and other (born Chan Kong-sang) is much more than the kick-ass kung fu moves that I would acquire as an adult. Jackie Chan is definitely full of surprises, from his life-changing 10-year schooling at the Chinese Opera Research Institute in acting, acrobatics, and more to the fact that he has a hole in his brain (more on that later).
I could write a book about everything there is to know about Jackie Chan, but the man has already done so. Instead, I’ll just summarise the strangest things I’ve learned about him by distilling them down to the six most fascinating facts.
1. Jackie Chan’s parents’ lives were straight out of an action film. Jackie Chan’s name is so intimately associated with the word “threat” that you’d believe he was born into it. Well, you wouldn’t be wrong if you said he was.
Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, the actor’s parents, were born in Hong Kong on April 7, 1954. Jackie Chan grew up knowing his father was an actor, even casting him in some of his own directorial projects, but he was shocked to learn that Charles (real name Fang Daolang) was a secret sailor for the Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army and that he met Jackie’s mother when he arrested her for smuggling opium into China. Jackie didn’t learn these deep family secrets until he was well into adulthood when his mother died in 2001.
2. Jackie Chan Invented a Comic Book Character. Being the real-life superhero that he is, a man with Jackie Chan’s resume appears tailor-made for his own comic book series. He seemed to agree.
Jackie Chan developed a comic book called Spartan X in 1997, based on his character Asian Hawk from the 1986 film Armour of God, which was published by Topps Comics. It was the first time he’d been transferred into ink. In the 2000s, Jackie Chan Adventures, a WB (now The CW) animated series in which he voiced a fictionalized version of himself, had its own graphic spin-off series.
3. Jackie Chan owns a number of hidden houses with hidden rooms. When Jackie Chan appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 2004 to promote Around the World in 80 Days, the presenter asked him if his house had secret passageways leading to hidden areas throughout the building, to which he replied, “Who told you this?” with a grin. The actor’s retort was not sarcastic. His home is a maze of intrigue.
In reality, he has several, though you’d never be able to locate them on your own. Jackie Chan offered a TLC interviewer a tour of one of his many residences hidden from the world in various locales, each of which is equipped with various secret spaces from within to achieve a more low-key lifestyle. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more ambitious, he exposes his most dangerous secret yet.
Read more: Albert Einstein: 30 Interesting Facts!
4. Jackie Chan has been hurt on set dozens of times. Okay, if I’m being completely honest, Jackie Chan’s movie-to-injury ratio isn’t exactly 1:1. He has well over 100 acting credits. In actuality, however, it is still perilously close.
According to my research (and who knows how many of his numerous stunts went wrong), Jackie Chan had at least 70 on-set injuries by the time he was 50. A few of these occurrences would turn out to be near-death experiences, like the time he suffered a permanent hole in his skull from a stunt in Armour of God, but he hasn’t seen the last of the Reaper’s close friends, as he nearly drowned on the set of his current thriller Vanguard. Perhaps the 65-year-old could try his hand at something less dangerous next, like an Aaron Sorkin film?
5. Jackie Chan was greatly influenced by the silent film era. Jackie Chan’s filmography frequently combines his brutal martial arts mastery with his cartoonish comedic stylings, most notably in the Rush Hour films with Chris Tucker or his pairing with Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, and especially in films, he directed himself, such as Police Story. You could assume he invented the schtick, but he owes it to early cinematic humorists.
For his pristine physical comedy chops, Jackie Chan has been compared to silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, which he must wear as a badge of honor since, as he told the New York Times in 1995, “I wanted to be like a Chaplin or Buster Keaton, but all the martial arts directors I worked with wanted me to copy Bruce Lee.” Chan’s long history of executing his own stunts onscreen was inspired by those icons’ willingness to put themselves at risk for the sake of the film. Knowing this, he might be able to hammer out a deal with the estates of Chaplin and Keaton to help pay for his medical expenditures.
Read more: Jesus Facts: 20 Interesting Facts!
6. In Asia, Jackie Chan is a well-known singer. The remix of Prime and Post Malone’s duet “Jackie Chan” by DJs Tisto and Dzeko was a smash in America in 2018. Of course, if you only listen to U.S. radio, you wouldn’t realize that the dance music tune isn’t even close to being a chart-topping hit for the actor.
Jackie Chan’s artistry extends beyond martial arts to include singing, with 20 albums published since the mid-’80s in which he sings in several languages. He’s also noted for creating songs for his own films, beginning with “Kung Fu Fighting Man” for the 1980s The Young Master and subsequently, “Hero Story,” the Cantonese-language main theme to his Police Story flicks, which the Royal Hong Kong Police used for recruitment commercials in 1994.
Jackie Chan continues to amaze us with his incredible cinematic talent and equally funny personal life after a lengthy career. Keep an eye on CinemaBlend for additional updates on Hollywood’s favorite living kung fu legend.