Jackie Chan’s Most Insane Movie Stunts Ranked
With Mission Impossible: Fallout hitting theaters later this month, there has been much focus on the next batch of crazy stunts that Tom Cruise will be performing. But as impressive as Cruise’s willingness to put himself in danger is, he’s hardly the first major star happy to risk his life on a film set for the sake of our entertainment.
Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan might have initially emerged in the 1970s as just another martial arts actor, but his incredible physical ability, comedic skills, and emerging talent as a director saw him quickly ascend to something far more than just another Bruce Lee clone. For more than a decade in the ’80s and ’90s, Chan delivered a run of incredible action classics, in which he performed some of the wildest stunts ever filmed.
This was an era before CGI and green screen, and with his legendary stunt team on hand to assist, Chan continued to push his body is a series of an increasingly dangerous ways. Broken bones and hospital visits during production became a commonplace occurrence. Chan often replayed the stunt scenes within his movies, usually in slow motion, to leave the audience in no doubt as to who was performing them.
These days, the 64-year-old has, of course, slowed down, but his legacy as one of cinema’s greatest action stars is assured. So with his latest movie, the sci-fi thriller Bleeding Steel, in theaters this weekend, we take a look at Jackie Chan’s greatest stunts.
11. Police Story 4: First Strike (1996) – Snowboard Jump
The fourth Police Story movie isn’t one of the best in the series, but it has a cool Bond-esque opening sequence in which Jackie is pursued by bad guys on snowboards. At one point, our hero zooms off the side of the mountain towards a hovering helicopter, and manages to grab the landing skids on the bottom of the ‘copter. As ever, Jackie shows the stunt from multiple angles and allows us to see that the stunt was 100% Chan.
10. Rumble in the Bronx (1995) – Alley Leap
Rumble in the Bronx was Jackie’s second attempt to break into the US market, following an unsuccessful go in the early ’80s. This time it worked, and would soon lead to American success with the Rush Hour movies. Sadly Jackie was never able to perform his own stunts in quite the same way when he hit Hollywood, but there are some flashes of the good stuff in this Vancouver-shot movie. The best moment sees him jump a 28-foot gap between tall buildings while being chased by villains–no harness, no wire, just skill and a bit of luck.
9. Who Am I? (1997) – Skyscraper Slide
This 1997 movie is hardly remembered as one of Jackie’s best films, and at 43, the star was clearly slowing down when it came to pushing himself physically. But there’s one scene which showed that the star could still deliver the dangerous goods. With villains hot on his trail, Jackie slides down the sloped glass side of Rotterdam’s famous Willemswerf Building. He descends 21 stories, at one stage flipping up on his feet and repositioning himself headfirst, all the time moving forward at increasing speed. Plus, the different camera angles throughout the scene make it clear that he didn’t just do the stunt once.
8. Winners and Sinners (1983) – Traffic Skating
Winners and Sinners saw Jackie team up with fellow action stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao for a silly action comedy. With the bigger cast and lighter tone, there’s not quite as much room for many wild stunts. But there is a standout, in which Jackie navigates heavy traffic in a pair of rollerskates, weaving through the vehicles before skimming below the underside of a huge lorry.
7. Police Story (1985) – Bus Hanging
For many fans, Police Story was the movie that truly revealed the lengths to which Chan would push himself for sake of our entertainment. It’s packed with insane sequences, and one of the best involves Chan hanging off the side of a speeding bus using just an umbrella. Not only that, but the scene ends with the bus coming to an abrupt halt, causing two villains on the top deck to crash out of the window. They were supposed to hit the parked car in front, but they fell short and instead smacked into the ground hard. And of course, Jackie chose to keep that take in the movie.
6. Drunken Master 2 (1994) – Hot Coal Crawl
In 1994, Jackie returned to the movie that helped make him a star, and delivered an incredible sequel to his ’78 martial arts classic Drunken Master. It’s very bit as good as the original, and features some of the greatest fight sequences of his career. The most eye-watering moment occurs towards the end, when our hero is knocked backwards into a pit of red-hot burning coals. Jackie crawls backwards through the pit using his bare hands as flames lick up around him, before climbing out and getting on with the action.
5. Armour Of God (1987) – Wall Jump
This wildly entertaining comedy adventure features one of Jackie’s most notorious stunts, and the one that put him closest to death. In the opening sequence, Chan’s treasure hunter character is attempting to escape a gang of angry natives. The stunt itself involved Jackie leaping from the ramparts of a castle wall to a tree, but while the first take went fine, ever the perfectionist, he demanded a retake so he could do it faster. This time however, the tree branch snapped, sending Jackie plummeting five meters to the ground. He cracked his skull on a rock and was airlifted to hospital where a piece of bone was removed from his brain in an emergency operation. Chan was left with a metal plate in his head, but he also included footage of the accident and its immediate aftermath in the outtakes at the end of the movie.
4. Police Story 3: Supercop (1993) – Helicopter Hanging
While the Police Story series has continued over the years, in terms of stunts, it peaked in 1993, with the third movie. As well as giving Michelle Yeoh her breakout role, it ends with a ridiculously dangerous-looking scene in which Jackie clutches a rope ladder, hanging from an airborne helicopter, which just keeps climbing higher and higher. Supercop indeed.
3. Police Story 2 (1988) – Bus Jump
Never one to do things the easy way, Jackie uses the top of a moving bus to gain access to a building in this sequel to the classic Police Story. First, he runs and leaps from the top of one bus to another. Next, as the vehicle speeds through traffic, Jackie spins and dives under several overhanging billboards before he jumps again, launching himself from the bus and through the huge glass window of a building. But as Chan later revealed, it was actually the wrong window: “Unfortunately, I chose the wrong window as my target, and instead of hitting prop glass, I smashed through a real pane. Which left me in real pain.”
2. Project A (1983) – Clock Tower Fall
This riotous period adventure, in which Jackie faces down a gang of nasty pirates, is one of his best, most endearing movies. There’s a ton of wild action, but while the best known scene is perhaps the exhilarating bicycle chase, the clock tower stunt is the craziest. Chan falls from a clocktower and drops three stories through two awnings, before hitting the ground. The scene was shot several times and Chan simply included two of the takes–you see him fall once, then we see it again, with his body twisting in a different, no less alarming way before slamming into the dirt. And then, just to prove that it’s really him, without cutting away, we see Jackie stagger to his feet to deliver a silly joke.
1. Police Story (1985) – Pole Slide
The first Police Story saves the best for last, and in typical style, Jackie allows us to watch this stunt several times from different angles. During the final shopping mall-set final confrontation, Jackie descends from an upper level to the ground using a giant pole that covers the entire height of the mall. He slides all the way down it, smashing through dozens of electrified glass lights that are strung all the way down the pole, before finally crashing through a glass pane at the bottom. Without cutting away, Chan then grabs a shard of broken glass and races towards the main villain to arrest him. Unsurprisingly, the shocked man doesn’t put up much of a fight.