Given that many viewers only know Jackie Chan from his mostly tepid Hollywood films, and have watched the sixty-year-old actor slow down on screen as he ages, it can be very easy to forget there was a time when there was no other action star like him. Well, Tony Zhou is here to remind you with his excellent video essay “Jackie Chan — How To Create Action Comedy” which entertainingly dissects the methods that made Chan a legend.
Informative and wildly entertaining, Zhou breaks down the science of what makes Chan’s best films such crackerjack entertainment, and some of the most unique (and very funny) action vehicles out there. And it comes from a commitment to doing it right, to letting the camera sit back and film the action, so the audience can see it, rather than constantly cutting back and forth between shots. The result are sequences with real oomph, where every kick and punch is felt, rather than a dizzying array of edits that loses the viewer.
Chan also (at least in his non-Hollywood movies) has a real commitment to staging, and in his Asian films, spent as much time as was needed getting the choreography just right. And coupled with a desire to create scenes that audiences haven’t seen before, it’s what makes many of his action films so influential and memorable to this day (and why, by contrast, so many stateside studio productions are forgettable and bland).
A fascinating look at the magic that created a star, and an easy-to-understand explanation of the important technical requirements that helped shape iconic actions scenes, ‘How To Create Action Comedy’ is great viewing. Watch below.