6 Crazy Facts About Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour

I can recall a time in my elementary school days when Jackie Chan was the ultimate figure of aspiration. With his impeccable skills in martial arts, death-defying boldness, and slapstick sense of humor (a staple of his career from the Police Story movies to the Rush Hour franchise and so on), he was a real-life superhero whom everyone my age wanted to be.

Much to my surprise, there is so much more to the Chinese actor, producer, director, etc. (born Chan Kong-sang) than kick-ass kung fu moves that I would come to learn as an adult. From his life-changing, 10-year education in acting, acrobatics, and more at the Chinese Opera Research Institute to the fact that he has a hole in his head (more on that later), Jackie Chan is undeniably full of surprises.

I could write a book on all of the craziest things to know about Jackie Chan, but the man himself has already done that. So, instead, I will just sum up the most bizarre things I have come to know about him by narrowing it down to the six most fascinating facts.

Jackie Chan in The Young Tiger

The Lives Of Jackie Chan’s Parents Were Straight Out Of An Action Movie

Jackie Chan’s name is so closely associated with “danger” that you would think it was a world he was born into. Well, you could actually say he was and not be wrong.

The actor was born in Hong Kong on April 7, 1954, to parents Charles and Lee-Lee Chan. Jackie Chan grew up knowing his father to be an actor, even casting him in some of his own directorial features, but what he would be shocked to learn that Charles (real-name Fang Daolang) was secretly a spy for the Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army, not to mention he met Jackie’s mother when he arrested her for smuggling opium into China. It was not until far into his adulthood, and after his mother’s 2001 death, that Jackie would learn these deep family secrets.

Jackie Chan's comic book alter ego from Spartan X

(Image credit: Topps Comics)

Jackie Chan Created His Own Comic Book Character

A man of Jackie Chan’s repertoire seems tailor-made for his own comic book series, being the real-life superhero he is as I mentioned previously. He apparently agreed.

In 1997, Jackie Chan created a comic book called Spartan X, inspired by his character from the 1986 movie Armour of God character Asian Hawk, which ran under Topps Comics from 1997. That was only his first time being transferred into ink. Jackie Chan Adventures, his animated series on WB (now The CW) in which he voiced a fictionalized version of himself, had its own graphic spin-off series in the 2000s.

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2

Jackie Chan Owns Many Secret Houses With Secret Rooms

When Jackie Chan appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien to promote Around the World in 80 Days in 2004, the host asked him to confirm if his home was imbued with secret passageways that leads to hidden rooms throughout the building, to which he replied with a grin, “Who told you this?” The actor’s response was not for snark. His house is a maze of mystery.

In fact, he has more than one, not that you would ever be able to find them on your own. Jackie Chan gave an interviewer from TLC a tour of one of his many homes hidden from the world in various locations, to achieve a more low-key lifestyle, each of which are equipped with various secret spaces from within as well. Just when you thought the man could not become more aspirational, he reveals his most badass secret yet.

Jackie Chan in The Foreigner

Jackie Chan Has Been Injured Dozens Of Times On Set

OK, if I am really being honest, with well over 100 acting credits, Jackie Chan’s movie to injury ratio is not actually 1:1. However, in reality, it is still frighteningly close.

As far as my research goes (because who knows how many of his innumerable stunts have ended badly) Jackie Chan suffered through at least 70 on-set injuries by the time he turned 50. A good handful of these incidents would turn out to be near-death experiences, such as the time he got a permanent hole in his skull from a stunt in the Armour of God, but he has apparently not seen the last of the Reaper’s close company as he reportedly almost drowned on the set of his latest thriller Vanguard. Maybe the 65-year-old should look into doing something less potentially hazardous next - an Aaron Sorkin movie, perhaps?

Jackie Chan in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow

The Silent Movie Era Had A Big Influence On Jackie Chan

Much of Jackie Chan’s filmography blends his brutal martial arts mastery with his cartoonish comedic stylings, most notably in the Rush Hour films opposite Chris Tucker or his pairing with Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, and especially in films he directed himself, such as Police Story. You might think that it was a schtick he originated, but truthfully he has humorists of cinema earliest years to thank.

Jackie Chan has been subject of comparisons to silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton for his pristine physical comedy chops, which he must wear as a badge of honor since, as he told the New York Times in 1995, “I wanted to be like a Chaplin or Buster Keaton, but all the martial arts directors I worked with wanted me to copy Bruce Lee.” It was also those legends’ own insistence to put themselves in danger for the sake of film that inspired Chan’s long legacy of personally performing his own stunts onscreen. Knowing this, maybe he can work out a deal that Chaplin and Keaton’s estates can contribute to his medical bills.

Jackie Chan in The Tuxedo

DJs Tiësto and Dzeko’s remix of the Preme and Post Malone collaboration “Jackie Chan” was a smash for America in 2018. Of course, if you are only paying attention to U.S. radio stats, you would not know that the dance music song is not the closest that the actor has gotten to a chart-topping hit.

Jackie Chan’s talent as an artist goes beyond martial and into vocal as well, having released 20 albums since the mid-‘80s on which he sings in multiple languages. He is also known for recording songs for many of his own films, beginning with “Kung Fu Fighting Man” for 1980’s The Young Master and, later, the Cantonese-language main theme to his Police Story movies, “Hero Story,” which the Royal Hong Kong Police would use for recruitment advertisements in the 1994.

After a long career, Jackie Chan continues thrill us with his amazing work in film and his equally amusing personal life. Be sure to check back for more news on Hollywood's favorite living kung fu legend here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.