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Arte documentary about superstar Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan first made famous in Asia and then worldwide with his action blasts with daring stunts and a lot of humor. A new Arte documentary is dedicated to the Chinese superstar.

Berlin – Jackie Chan is just as famous for spectacular action films and breakneck stunts as for slapstick humor and slapstick in front of the camera. Most of the time, the Chinese movie star has an infectious smile on her face. And whether you like his films or not, it’s hard not to find Jackie Chan likable.

But there is also controversy in the life of the 67-year-old, who has had an incredible career as a stuntman, actor, producer, screenwriter, director, singer and businessman.

The makers of the documentary “Jackie Chan – With humor and punch” on Friday at 9:50 pm on Arte tried to draw a multi-layered picture of the man who his parents once called Pao Pao (cannonball) because he was already a Child liked to fight.

At a boarding school, which is considered an artist factory, little Jackie receives a strict and hard training with 15 hours of training a day. The talented acrobat was discovered during a TV appearance with classmates in the early 1960s. At 17 he became a stuntman.

After the death of top star Bruce Lee, film studios tried unsuccessfully to fill the void with imitators. Jackie is one of them. But only when he shows his talent for situation comedy in front of the camera in addition to martial arts, his career gets going. His wit and speed soon influenced Western action cinema as well. And: Jackie Chan does the dangerous stunts himself. “The more I hurt myself, the more stunts I want to do,” he says.

Today’s cult classics such as “The Snake in the Shadow of the Eagle”, “Drunken Master” (both 1978) or the action hit “Police Story” (1985) were only available on video in the USA and Europe at the time, but made box-offices ringing in Asia. Attempts to make the breakthrough in the USA in the 1980s fail. That only succeeded in the 90s thanks to films like the US action comedy “Rush Hour”.

Most recently, Chan played more serious roles. In the thriller “The Foreigner” he convinced as a desperate father who lost his daughter in a bomb attack and is now looking for the mastermind. “I want to be an actor who can fight, not a fighter who can also act,” emphasizes the workaholic, who traditionally accepts too many projects. The quality of the well over 100 films in which he has worked to date therefore fluctuates tremendously.

He is said to have barely had time for his wife, the actress Feng-Jiao Lin, and their son. However, his private life is only a marginal aspect in the documentation. His illegitimate daughter, who emerged from a high-profile affair, is not mentioned.

The controversies surrounding his relationship with the Chinese leadership are dealt with in somewhat greater detail. His parents once fled from the communists. In 1989, Chan sang in Hong Kong at a concert in support of the democratic protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. But today he seems to sympathize with the regime. “I am someone who is loyal to my country, regardless of the president,” he explains. “I’m a simple person and don’t talk about politics.” He is clearly uncomfortable with questions about this.

But he recently expressed support for the Chinese government at pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. It certainly plays a role that Chan has built up a huge business empire in China with gyms, cinemas, restaurants and production companies that he may have to fear for. Is he a patriot out of conviction or out of duty? What Chan really thinks probably only knows himself. The Arte documentary calls him a “double agent of the cinema”.

“Jackie Chan – With humor and punch” pays tribute to the star as a innovator of action cinema and as a pioneer of an Asian counterculture, long before mangas, anime, K-pop and Asian cinema became popular in this country. At the same time, he paints the picture of a young at heart who is constantly on the lookout for recognition.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn’t speak to Jackie Chan and only used excerpts from old interviews, the origin of which is not always entirely clear. Despite the beautiful archive footage, one misses a real insight into the film industry in Hong Kong in the 70s and 80s. Chan’s successful career as a pop singer in Asia is also just a side note. So the Arte documentation remains a bit too superficial. But it is still entertaining. dpa

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