Vanguard star Jackie Chan 'trembled' after nearly drowning
The crew 'burst into tears' after Chan was rescued from his near-death experience
For Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan, crying was not an option when he encountered a near-death experience while shooting his latest action movie Vanguard – even though others around him could not control their tears over the incident.
Opening here on Jan 25, the film features Chan playing the founder and boss of the titular high-tech security agency that recruits and trains global talent, who are then thrown into a continent-spanning mission as they race to rescue a company client.
Chan, 65, almost drowned during a scene involving the rescue of a hostage in Africa, when his aquabike hit a rock, flipped over in the fast-moving river and he was trapped beneath it.
He told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "The torrent was strong and I wasn't able to swim my way out, and the rescue team took time to reach me.
"I told myself to stay calm and hold on. I wasn't injured but I could have died from the accident."
Meanwhile, on set, Hong Kong director Stanley Tong – who has worked with Chan for over 30 years – and many crew members "burst into tears" upon seeing Chan eventually rescued.
Touched by their concern, Chan mustered a smile in an attempt to comfort and reassure them.
"They must have been terrified," he said.
Although Chan himself did not break down over it, he recalled he "trembled that night" when he was alone in his hotel room.
He is "easily moved" by stories about the underprivileged and tragedies.
Chan said: "Recently, the huge fires all over Australia have killed many people and animals, and destroyed homes.
"It is really heartbreaking (and that was the last time) I cried. I really hope that heavy rain will fall on Australia and help alleviate the disaster."
Still, the potentially fatal episode on Vanguard has pushed him to be more cautious in future.
He said: "(The Jackie Chan Stunt Team) has increased its knowledge about shooting safely, like how to make a stunt perfect with different tools and equipment."
However, he is still committed to performing his own stunts and action choreography.
And as he does not like to repeat himself, he tries his best to always bring something new to each film.
"There are pressures to being an actor, but that pressure also acts as encouragement, which forces me to improve and come up with new ideas.
"I no longer do the crazy stunts of my younger years. I trained since I was very young so my foundation is still strong. Most action moves are still easy for me.
"Of course, I've changed my style of fighting in recent years, but my audience still expects me to do my own stunts, and I don't want to disappoint them," he said.
Chan assured his fans they will not be disappointed with the entertainment value of Vanguard, which was shot in nine locations globally, including London, Dubai, Zambia and an ancient city in India.
He said: "As the (agency) boss, I thought I wouldn't need to fight that much. But I was wrong. I still get to fight."
He added: "The action scenes are thrilling. You can expect one-on-one fighting, a chase in the forest and on fast-moving rapids, explosions and gun fights.
"The Dubai car chase scene is superb. Audiences have seen exciting car chase scenes before, including the one in (Chan's 2017 action adventure comedy) Kung Fu Yoga, but this time we have gold-plated sports cars."
And in a way, his character is just like him in real life.
"I teach the actors their stunts, personally showing them the action moves. Not only in this film, but in all the films I'm attached to. I want my knowledge and experience to be passed down to future generations."
NOT SLOWING DOWN
Despite facing various life-threatening situations on the job, Chan is not slowing down.
He has just finished shooting Project X-Traction co-starring John Cena, which will be released later this year. A self-directed film is also in the post-production phase.
Chan was also honoured with the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Entertainment late last year.
He said: "I'm very thankful. The movie business is my career and life. I've been in it for 60 years. Can you imagine? So the award is a recognition of that work."