The Zodiac Thriller: One more jolt from Jackie
The action superstar says that his latest film 'CZ12', based on ancient Chinese lore, will likely be the last time he puts his body through the pounding it's become accustomed to over the years. But while he might be moving to safer ground, the irrepressible actor is nowhere near ready to leave the limelight
Jackie Chan has acted in more than 100 movies and with his intense style of film-making and love of stunts, he's had a similarly high number of bone breaks. While the star once quipped, ''It only hurts when I'm not laughing,'' the aches appear to be catching up with Chan.
The 58 year old says that following the gruelling experience of filming his latest movie, CZ12, he's going to be pursuing a less ache-inducing line of work. Chan says he will focus on roles that ''are less painful to my body''. And he's already well experienced in that regarded having, in addition to being the film's star, acted as its director, an actor, producer, action choreographer and investor.
Chan talks about his film, the the title of which is a reference to the 12 ancient symbols of the Chinese zodiac, the challenges and dangers of working with a team of costars, and the dangerous stunts that left even Jackie Chan thinking: enough is enough.
How did you come up with the storyline for 'Chinese Zodiac'?
I wanted to make a film about Chinese artefacts being returned to the homeland. About six years ago, I saw my first [ancient Chinese] bronze animal head in an auction. At that time, I wondered why our national treasures are always lost overseas. And then last year, there were another two bronze heads being auctioned. Meanwhile, many people from other countries say that these artefacts are part of the world's heritage, and taking custody of them is actually appropriate. So this gave me the idea for the story in CZ12.
Can you talk about your character?
I play JC. He is a modern-day treasure hunter, an adventurer-for-hire who is ready to tackle any job for a price. To start with, he's happy enough to work for the shady Corporation, criss-crossing the globe in search of the missing bronzes from a set of 12 Chinese zodiac heads. But then he discovers the hidden activities of his employers _ and he learns the age-old lesson that ''to live outside the law, you must be honest''. I think in the end JC is twice the man he was before.
In your past films, you are often featured as a hero acting alone, but Chinese Zodiac is a team affair; why the change?
I think audiences will find it more fun. In this film I have a lot of backup from a group of amazing actors. But that means I have to work twice as hard, as I have to watch over them in the stunt scenes. If a fight was called for, some danger was OK. When they were fighting, I would stay next to the lens, and if they looked tired, or simply had no understanding of their fight moves, or had to be sped up, then it fell to me to tie everything together. But everything came out all right, especially with Zhang Lanxin, who performed her stunts very well.
Can you talk a little bit about Zhang Lanxin?
In my view, Zhang Lanxin is one of our best female martial artists. I can't rate her highly enough. First, there are many who can fight, but they're small in stature. Zhang Lanxin is 177cm tall, with very long hands and legs, and very quick. In the movie I tried to show all of her special strengths and qualities. Plus, Zhang Lanxin has extraordinary staying power.
It was only yesterday at the airport that I saw photos on her mobile phone taken at the hospital where she was having blood clots in her knee cleared up, and I hadn't known till then that she had this problem. I told her that had I known of the condition, I wouldn't have let her do the fight scenes.
The film also features Kwon Sang-woo, who's already a superstar in South Korea. Can you talk about the experience of working with him?
I didn't choose Kwon Sang-woo only because he's a recognised face; he is also an immensely talent actor. And he knows how to do stunt scenes; his punches and kicks have power! He is also very smart. His ability to grasp stunts is very high, clean and crisp. His dedication was always appreciated. He would spend two hours on his own to train. When I watched through the camera I too was attracted. I think he has the potential to become a new-generation action superstar.
What about the scene where you were in some kind of special suit?
It's called a ''buggy rollin'' suit [a padded suit fitted with inline skate wheels], and it's very hard to control. Some people need to practise more than a year to control it, but I had to learn how to use it in three weeks. The highway that we shot the scene on is so steep and there are fast, sharp curves that could have killed me. The most dangerous action was to slide under a car. I had to maintain absolute balance; otherwise I would be drawn into the wheels. I am not Superman _ I was afraid during the shoot, but I desperately wanted to do the scene. And since everyone was looking at me, as soon as the cameras rolled, I had no option but to risk my life.
Was the climax scene that you shot in Vanuatu at the site of an active volcano as has been reported?
Yes, we travelled to the volcano of Mount Yasur in Vanuatu to shoot the last part of film, which ran about four minutes. But we had to wait for two months to film, because I wanted to film when the volcano was erupting. I think the risk and level of this scene is comparable to the jump from the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai by Tom Cruise in the latest Mission Impossible movie. When filming this scene, I could see the volcanic debris flying over my head. This is definitely the most dangerous situation I've ever been in.
There's a rumour that you will retire from action movies after 'Chinese Zodiac'; can you elaborate on that?
For the past decade, there have been a lot of friends or directors telling me that I shouldn't be doing action movies at my age. And to be honest, I really am getting older. So I thought, all right, but before I retire I'd like to make one last major action film, one good one. Now everyone is saying that I'm retiring, but I want to solemnly declare that I don't want to retire, I just want to do things a bit less dangerous to my body. So I want to really stress this: I am a director, an actor, producer, action choreographer and I'm also an investor. I've been preparing this movie for seven years, spent seven years on writing the script, spent over a year on filming it. I wanted this film to be the best it could be. But it's definitely not the last one.
SOURCE: THE BANGKOK POST