On the list of "shoulda-been-Expendables," Jackie Chan ranks pretty highly. He's one of the more highly-decorated members of the Action Hero Hall Of Fame, and he's done movies with several of the people in The Expendables 3, including Sylvester Stallone (Burn, Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Around The World In 80 Days) and Jet Li (Forbidden Kingdom). So why hasn't he got the call to show up in any of the movies in the trilogy? Perhaps the better question is, why hasn't he answered the call?
In an interview with Den Of Geek, Chan claims that while he's obviously being sought for Expendables 4, he's simply not a fan of the format of these films.
"...this morning I did hear - the office called - Sly [Stallone] wants me for Expendables 4. I said, ‘Okay.’ Because they already asked me to be in two and three, but I refused. Well, I didn’t refuse, but I said, ‘Sly, can’t we just do you and me? Not just a bunch of people and me only coming out for five minutes.’ Because then the audience is, ‘Oh!’ And then I’m gone."
These movies so far have been overstuffed to the point of parody. The latest film tries to find space for two full Expendables teams, reducing Jet Li to a tiny cameo and four spoken lines, and he doesn't even throw any kicks. And Wesley Snipes seems like a selling point for the new movie, but after a major break-in that frees him, he and the rest of the Expendables are (temporarily!) fired and replaced by the new crew. It's gimmicky because every new actor gets a big introductory scene, and we're supposed to act like its an event because its a certain actor, not because it's an interesting character or because something exciting will happen.
Stallone and Chan are reportedly good buddies, to the point where even in the nineties he was trying to get the star to come to America for Demolition Man. Chan has been reluctant, not only because of the quality of the roles and the inadequacy of the American stunt teams, but because it's a very big commitment for him to leave home. He's already talked about how the Rush Hour films were a chore and he's gone on record having difficulty with English. Chan's a fairly reserved, personal guy, and in a foreign land, speaking a foreign tongue, certain personalities can feel alienated.
Chan also mentions that he's been talking to people about Shanghai Dawn, the sequel to Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights – at least that film would involve him doing some martial arts and having a good time. From what I hear, The Expendables sets are pretty basic, serious, low-key affairs where everyone keeps to themselves, particularly all the supposedly "bigger" personalities. Maybe they should just let Chan direct an Expendables 4 with a much smaller cast, and just please everyone?