One thing I’m noticing about Jackie Chan’s choreography: he keeps his own unscripted mistakes on-screen. Obviously, there are many that can’t be kept – the unintentional hits and misses highlighted in the painful gag reels he shares during the credits. Yet when Jackie starts a kick too early and has to adjust, or adds a needless extra step or miscued move, he’ll keep it. These are minor imperfections, corrections, and hesitations, but there are enough of them to give his choreography – for all its acrobatics and complexity – an everyman feel.
Here’s what makes it work: he doesn’t keep the unscripted mistakes of the actors who play his villains. They represent an unassailable perfection, intimidating because they don’t miss a step. This reflects a concept often associated with Buddhism, and reflected through many Eastern martial arts, including the Southern kung fu, hapkido, and taekwondo in which Jackie specializes.
The idea is that perfection is something that can only be achieved for a moment. The very second you reach it is the very second you lose it. In accomplishing perfection, it now takes on a different meaning, because you can always go beyond something you’ve accomplished. Life is the pursuit of perfection, a constant moving of the goalposts further and further down the field. True mastery over anything is in realizing and understanding that you cannot master it, but rather let it flow through you. Thus, to consciously realize you are doing something perfectly is to become too aware of it; perfection slips away when recognized.
It’s a philosophy repeated throughout many kung fu films, but few choreographies represent this better than Jackie’s. His characters again and again are flawed, extraordinarily acrobatic one moment and tripping over themselves the next. Their techniques can rarely match up against those of his villains – it’s only through creativity, adaptation, and indomitable spirit that he can match them. It inverts the classic Western superhero trope – that heroes have to win all the time, and villains only have to win once. In Jackie Chan films, the onus is reversed. Since villains win all the time, it’s the heroes who only have to win once. Jackie’s opponents aren’t the villains he fights; his opponent is the perfection they embody.
It is the most often overlooked key to Jackie’s success – no matter how many times we’ve seen a Jackie Chan film, no matter how many times we’ve seen him win in the end, his kung fu is filled with so many holes and imperfections that we can never be absolutely sure it will defeat the taller, more limber, more technically perfect martial artists opposite him. Cinematically, it’s a lesson learned from Charlie Chaplin, who Jackie credits as one of his greatest influences – to root for the underdog, you’ve got to believe he really could lose.
This works because it transforms the fight into something we can understand. None of us can do the things Jackie Chan can do, so why make us root for him to do them well? There’s no tension there; we know how talented Jackie is and that he’ll always win that last fight. But we’re never asked to root for him to win. We’re asked to root for him to overcome himself in order to do it. Winning is secondary.
That personal challenge, surpassing your own capabilities, achieving that fleeting moment when you don’t master the moment at hand, but rather let it flow through you – that’s what we’re cheering for. We know how hard it is to overcome ourselves. It’s the most constant, difficult, and frightening challenge in life. Because it’s the fight we so rarely win, it’s the fight we can never be sure Jackie will win. Beating someone up – we know Jackie Chan can do that in his sleep. Overcoming ourselves…that can only be achieved for a moment. Every time we accomplish it, it takes on a different meaning, because there will always be something in yourself to overcome.
It’s what makes Jackie Chan’s choreography so universal, so meaningful. The acrobatics and flips, leaping off buildings and running up walls, are astounding, yes. Yet he’s made a career not of fighting villains, but of fighting himself and his limits in the same way we all fight ourselves and our limits. That’s why he’s transcended cultures. It doesn’t matter what language he’s speaking, we all know that fight when we see it. It’s the one that scares us the most, and it’s the one he faces for us over and over again. In that way, he demonstrated first to Hong Kong and then to a world of fans – very few of whom can leap off buildings or run up walls – how to surpass their own limitations and fears. He hasn’t pursued a career of being perfect. He’s pursued a career of being imperfect.
Since those limits and fears win all the time, we just have to win once. Then we find new limits, new fears, the goalposts move, and we start over again, better than we thought we could be yesterday.
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This movie has the neon gloss of the late 1990s and might feel a little dated. The Gen-Xers of yore are hardly dying their shaggy locks purple or giving the finger to their bosses. In fact, they probably are the bosses. Nevertheless, it remains a good introduction to Hong Kong cinema, a movie that delivers everything it promises – action, comedy, youthful rebellion, international flair – and all this mayhem breezily but firmly rooted in Hong Kong.
“Gen-X” is used here not so much as a sociological definition as it is to suggest a class of punkish misfits and underdogs. This gang can’t conform to rules, has problems with authority, is searching for meaning in life, and has miserable taste in fashion; that is to say, they are young. And that apparently lends them varying shades of criminality.
At the darkest end of the spectrum is Daniel (Daniel Wu), the younger brother of gangster Dinosaur (Gordon Lam). He’s a bit of a lost soul and, despite his overseas education, has opted for a high-stakes criminal life to that of a high-stakes banker [insert joke about these being the same career path]. His closest companions are Tooth (Terence Yin) and girlfriend Haze (Jaymee Ong) who willfully aid and abet his crimes. The fearsome Akatora (Nakamura Toru) takes on Daniel and uses him to secure a shipment of Deadliest Weapons Ever but faces some trouble from Dinosaur’s pal, Lok (Francis Ng).
The Hong Kong police get wind of the whole deal and set to tackle it like adults. Inspector Chan (Eric Tsang) wants in on the case. He has a personal interest but is taunted by the sneering Superintendent To (Moses Chan) and laughed off because of his epileptic twitches. In a very Gen-X sort of way, Chan carries on his own investigation anyway, recruiting some recently dismissed police academy trainees as undercover agents. Jack (Nicholas Tse), Match (Stephen Fung), and Alien (Sam Lee) look and act in ways that are more likely to get them stopped by police. They show they are pretty tough dudes by disrespecting anyone over the age of 30, getting into bar fights, and having really bad posture. The same goes for Y2K (Grace Ip), the group’s techie who also rolls her eyes with aplomb.
It’s hard to imagine a similar film being made today. There seems to be little room for fun action flicks. Movies with explosions and gunfights tend to skew towards dark and heavy, laden with overtones about the direction of Hong Kong society. Gen-X Cops delivers the firepower but also supplies an arsenal of irreverent shenanigans to lighten the mood. It benefits from the fresh energy of its stars, eager beavers at the time. These young turks’ penchant for hard work and desire to please come through. They give their otherwise simple characters a little bit of life and the audience someone to sympathize with. Maybe it was the actors’ international backgrounds converging all at once in Hong Kong or perhaps the newness of the Handover or, conversely, the apocalyptic buzz of the coming millenium. Maybe it was just the thrill of blowing up the Hong Kong Convention Centre. Something makes this drawn out plot, long on betrayal and misplaced loyalties, an arousing adventure.
Prod: John Chong 莊澄; Solon So 蘇志鴻; Benny Chan 陳木勝
Dir: Benny Chan 陳木勝
Writer: Benny Chan 陳木勝
Cast: Nicholas Tse 謝霆鋒; Stephen Fung 馮德倫; Sam Lee 李燦森; Daniel Wu 吳彥祖; Grace Ip 葉佩雯; Nakamura Toru 仲村 トオル; Francis Ng 吳鎮宇; Gordon Lam 林家棟; Terence Yin 尹子維; Jaymee Ong 王淑美; Moses Chan 陳豪; Eric Tsang 曾志偉; Wayne Lai 黎耀祥; Ken Lo 盧惠光; Bey Logan 龍比意; Jackie Chan 成龍
Time: 113 min
Lang: Cantonese, some English
Country: Hong Kong
دوای ئهوهی ماوهیهک لهمهو پێش بانگهشهی ئهوه ههبوو که گوایه سیوۆن بهنیازی ڕۆڵ گێڕانه له بهرههمی تازهی ئهکتهری ناوداری جیهانی (جاکی شان) له فیلمێکی مێژوویدا، دوێنێ 10/6/2016 کۆمپانیای ئێس ئێم به (نیوسێن) ی ڕاگهیاند ” چۆی سیوۆن بڕیاریدا له بهرههمێکی نوێی چینیدا دهرکهوێت بهناوی دراگۆن بلهید. ئهو ڕۆڵێکی گرنگ لهم فیلمهدا دهگێرێت شان بهشان لهگهڵ جاکی شان و جۆن کوساک” ئێس ئێم ههروهها ووتی “چۆی سیوۆن ئێستا به بهردهوامی سهفهر دهکات و دهگهڕێتهوه له چینهوه بۆ کۆریا بۆ وێنهگرتنی فیلمهکه”
ئهم فیلمه فیلمێکی مێژووییه که باس له سهرکردهیهک دهکات دوای ئهوهی بووه به خزمهتکار له کاتی جهنگی نێوان هانس و هونسدا ههروهها شازادهیهکی ڕۆمانی که ڕایکرد بهرهو خۆرههڵات. فیلمهکه بڕیاره له ساڵی 2015 بڵاو دهکرێتهوه