Since the early seventies, Jackie Chan has been entertaining us all with his fast and furious style of fighting and fearless attempts at dangerous stunts. We all are probably familiar with some of his movies and if were being honest; they are all similar to each other in many ways, but we don’t watch his films to be awed by its cinematography or acting; we watch them to have fun.
Jackie Chan has an uncanny ability to make his audience smile from ear to ear with his insane stunt choreography and comedy style that spawns from his early teachings at the Peking Opera School, which is part of the China Drama Academy. The school worked on rigorous regiments of weapons training, martial arts, and acting among other subjects in Chan’s youth. The knowledge and abilities gained from the training in his youth sparked his career in the Hong Kong film industry where he began fusing the dramatic, comedic, and physical aspects with his imagination to create the films we know and love today.
All of the movies on the following list celebrate everything that we love in a Jackie Chan film in different ways. Not only will we look at the film at face value, but some of the extraordinary things that happened behind the scenes during the filming of the movie that will give an extra appreciation to what is being viewed. And without further adieu: the top twenty most enjoyable Jackie Chan movies of all time.
20. Rush Hour (1998)
Rush Hour was really the first American style film that Jackie Chan was involved in, and it ended up becoming somewhat of an underrated classic that invokes some nostalgia upon viewing. The film blended American style comedy with Chan’s familiar action style and for the first time paired him with a co-star that could help him shoulder the comedic burden, unfortunately it turned out that Chris Tucker could ultimately only portray one character in most of his films after this, but in Rush Hour he was still fresh to audiences and still pretty damn funny.
The action sequences and palpable chemistry between Tucker and Chan fuel a rather weak overall film, but it doesn’t take away from the most important “fun” factor that Jackie Chan gives the audience in most of his films. This film was a perfect American representation of the quintessential Jackie Chan movie.
19. Shanghai Noon (2000)
This film is along the same lines of Rush Hour in the fact that it’s a “Hollywood” production, and it’s pretty good. The story is alright and it moves along to show Owen Wilson’s Cowboy and Jackie’s disgraced ancient Chinese royal guard while they try to find the beautiful Princess Pei Pei.
The film has a lot of funny and some heartwarming parts; Jackie climbs some mountains after leaving Owen Wilson’s character buried in the dessert up to his neck and only leaves him with a pair of chopsticks, and Jackie smoking peyote with the Native Americans are two good examples. Unfortunately, thanks to hollywood editing, we lose out on most of what makes Jackie’s action great; long and wide shots of him kicking hoards of bad guys in the face. The action doesn’t suffer though and Shanghai Noon still remains to be an enjoyable watch today.
18. Chinese Zodiac (2012)
Chinese Zodiac is set within the universe of the Armour Of God series with Jackie Chan reprising his hole as treasure hunter, thief, and spy: Asian Hawk. Asian Hawk is tasked with the mission of finding and recovering 12 bronze heads that represent all the animals of the zodiac that were looted by the french in the 1800’s.
The film isn’t the best of the three Armour of God films, but that doesn’t mean it offers less. We witness Jackie in many exotic locations around the world, A hidden shipwreck where one of the films major set pieces is filmed, and an airborne finale above an erupting volcano. The film also redeems itself from A rather excessive run-time with a classic “Jackie” style fight scene before the volcano finale that echoes back to his two previous Armour Of God films and their final battles that shows Jackie dispatch a gaggle of goons… after he spends the first few minutes exchanging blows with a “scumbag” on a couch as a challenge in a “floor is lava” style fight.
17. Armour Of God (1986)
The original Armour Of God film was the reveal of Chan’s Asian Hawk character as he popped his now trademark two pieces of gum into his mouth before embarking into an island prayer ritual to steal the “Sword of God” that was apart of the mystical and mysterious “Armour Of God”. The Asian Hawk slips and slides into the statue the natives were bowing to; knocking it’s head off and replacing it with his own, complete with A stone faced grin. The introductory scene provides us with everything we need to know about Asian Hawk’s goofy and often hilarious parody on the ongoing James Bond series.
Armour Of God plays as a comedy for most of it’s run-time and showcases the antics of Asian Hawk and his sloppy cohort Alan in an adventure that would serve as a springboard to future Jackie Chan classics, but turns into an all out action film in it’s final 30 minutes as we watch a dynamite vested Asian hawk fight off baddies in a dark cave, making us forget about the crazy ridiculous Mitsubishi they were kicking around in earlier.
16. Project A (1983)
Project A is very classic in its Chinese Operatic style. The film features a lot of goofy humor and over the top acting, but redeems itself tenfold with its action scenes.
We see Jackie in a huge bar brawl with all of his coast guard buddies that is perfectly choreographed, he swings from a chandelier, jumps over stairs, falls over couches, AND fights pirates. The best scene comes in the film’s finale, as per usual, that features lots of sword and weapon play while watching Jackie get tossed around that finally ends with a 3-1 fight against a tattooed pirate.
15. Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Rush Hour 2 only delivers in one aspect: FUN! Brett Ratner’s second outing with Carter and Lee was better than its predecessor. RH2 succeeds where the first film lacks, and that is putting Jackie Chan in the driver’s seat. Most of the film sees Chan’s Inspector Lee in his homeland of China with Chris Tucker’s Carter, where the two bustle around and cause all sorts of mayhem while trying to chase down the Triad enemy.
Ratner seems to know what audiences want to see with Jackie Chan, (at least he did in the first two RH films) in RH2 he uses Jackie to the best of his ability while still playing off the excellent chemistry between he and Chris Tucker. The “bomb in the mouth” scene, for example; uses Jackie’s Chinese operatic history to it’s advantage that puts a comedic spin on an otherwise stressful situation while using the films last twenty minutes to build to a climax that is filled with classic Jackie Chan stunt work that ends in a hilarious parallel between Chan and Tucker’s characters where they respectively run across, and fumble themselves along a tractor trailer.
14. New Police Story (2004)
New Police Story is pretty intense… and dark. The film follows the continuing adventures of Inspector Chan of the Hong Kong Police and within the first 30 minutes, they put good old Inspector Chan through the ringer. We witness him lead his men into a situation where they meet a gang of men that act flamboyant and eccentrically evil, not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight. The men hang Chan’s fellow officers from the high ceiling of the warehouse they’re in and challenge him to a series of twenty second duels and if he loses: they drop a man. The scene is gut wrenching as you watch Chan fight his heart out to save the lives of his men, and as he slowly fails, they slowly begin to drop one by one while he screams toward the sky. Chan becomes reclusive and then slowly returns to seek revenge.
NPS only fails in one way, and that is the authentic action that came from early Jackie Chan films. Although the stunts are big and well executed, and it’s still Jackie doing them; you can tell that he is getting old and is being aided by a wire.
13. Police Story 2 (1988)
Police Story 2 is good where New Police Story, and most of Jackie’s films since Shanghai Knights aren’t; and that’s real action. From the outset in PS2, we are treated to a montage of all of the best action in the previous installment in the series.
While PS2 isn’t nearly as good as the first PS, it remains entertaining in the same way the first installment was, but suffers from some lack of action as it’s intro sort of promises. The finale in the fireworks warehouse is worth the watch itself, and there is some good action throughout. You just kind of wish there was some more.
12. Twin Dragons (1992)
Twin Dragons is pretty great because, well. There are two Jackie Chan’s! In Twin Dragons, Jackie Chan and his twin brother are separated by birth because of a thief in the same hospital.
TD is a really fun movie and shows the brothers getting inadvertently involved in gang violence that results in them teaming together in a really entertaining finale inside of a automobile factory, hilarity ensues because while one brother is an expert fighter; the other can’t fight at all. Overall it allows us to sit back and watch another in the line of Jackie Chan movies that showcase his abilities and imagination and a stunt man and action star.
11. The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
This movie is so much fun, Jackie incorporates weaponry into his fight scenes and we get some of that through out, plus, drunken boxing is so awesome to watch. When we see four ladies carrying two bottles of liquor each and then keep throwing them to Jackie for him to chug them down one by one to fuel his fight… we should smile.
The Drunken Master goes red in the face and announces all of his moves to his enemies while he enjoys every minute of his drunken beat down in hilarious ways. If you enjoy Jackie Chan and the feeling you gain from watching one of his movies; watch this film.