Jackie Chan: River scene nearly killed me
The HK star said a stunt scene in new movie Skiptrace was the scariest scene he had ever made
What does one expect from a Jackie Chan movie?
Slick martial arts action, slapstick comedy and, most importantly, spectacular stunt-heavy set-pieces.
His latest offering, Skiptrace, is not short on white-knuckle sequences that are trademarks of Chan's works.
The intrepid Hong Kong actor has survived joint dislocations, bleeding in the brain and near-blindness over the course of his illustrious career.
While Chan, 62, has been seriously hurt countless times, no incident was as life-threatening as a scene in Skiptrace that almost took his life.
Calling it the "scariest scene" he has ever made, the stunt sequence had Chan falling off a raft and into a gushing river with treacherous rapids.
"I was supposed to fall into the river and act as if I didn't know how to swim," he told M in an e-mail interview.
"I nearly drowned as the river was very rough, and I am not a good swimmer. I really called out for help."
Opening here on July 22 with sneaks on July 21, the Sino-American action-comedy sees Chan pairing up with Hollywood actor-comedian Johnny Knoxville.
Chan's detective Bennie forms an unlikely partnership with Knoxville's small-time criminal Connorto help Bennie's goddaughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing), who has got herself into a predicament involving a notorious Chinese criminal.
The buddy road-trip movie takes audiences to scenic Hong Kong, Macau and Russia. It also boasts the picturesque rivers and mountains of Guilin, and the desert and grasslands of Inner Mongolia.
Directed by Hollywood film-maker Renny Harlin and produced by Chan, Skiptrace is the latter's love letter to China and has been brewing for over 20 years.
Chan said: "The story has been with me for a long time.
"I like (Robert De Niro's 1988 action-comedy) Midnight Run very much, and I have been thinking of doing something like that with Jet Li or Queen Latifah.
"I discussed with Owen Wilson and Chris Tucker too, but it took a while to make Skiptrace happen."
US actors Tucker and Wilson were Chan's co-stars from his Hollywood hits Rush Hour (1998) and its 2001 and 2007 sequels, and Shanghai Noon (2000) and Shanghai Knights (2003) respectively.
"Injuries during filming are common, and I am used to it," he said.
"One of the most memorable injuries sustained was during the filming of Chinese Zodiac (2012). I had a terrible fall and hurt my back, and at that time, I was really worried that I might be paralysed and be wheelchair-bound for the rest of my life.
"But of course, I was lucky."
Chan, who has at least six films in production including The Karate Kid 2 and Rush Hour 4, has never entertained thoughts of stopping work.
"There are no such words as 'slowing down' or 'retirement' in my dictionary.
"I love movies, and I hope I can keep making good movies."
Fan Bingbing works hard to perfect English
It has been seven years since Fan Bingbing first worked with Jackie Chan in 2009's Shinjuku Incident.
Their reunion on Skiptrace had been fun and challenging, as she got to do some of her stunts and was given lengthy English dialogue.
The 34-year-old Chinese actress spoke to M via e-mail about re-teaming with Chan, her impression of Johnny Knoxville and branching out to Hollywood.
How was it working with Chan again?
He was cute and playful off-screen.
But while on set, he was dedicated to the martial arts scenes and would aim for perfection. Not only was he stern towards other actors, he was even stricter with himself and never slacked.
(Above) Fan Bingbing and Jackie Chan in Skiptrace. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISTION
What about Knoxville?
He is a friendly and dedicated actor. Despite having a lot of action scenes, he practised tirelessly and gave his best.
Were your English lines hard to grasp?
I have been learning English and despite being busy, I will find time to (learn more).
But of course for the movie, I put in more effort and increased the intensity of cramming. I made sure I thoroughly understood the lines so as to better express my emotions.
You have starred in X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) and will be seen in upcoming films The King's Daughter and Meg alongside Pierce Brosnan and Jason Statham respectively. Are you enjoying Hollywood so far?
(Going to Hollywood) is an opportunity to experience a different way of communicating and learning. You get to know a different environment than the one in China.
I try to adapt to their way of working, to their language, food and culture. The experiences have been amazing.
The US movie industry developed much earlier, so they had more time to work on their structures, technical abilities and other details.
In China, we are working hard to produce top-quality movies and help the industry develop further.