Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Jackie Chan Interview -

Sit down! Shut up! Stand up! Whee, woo and waaa -- and wham, bang, wallop and wham and bam and bang again and thank you Jackie Chan. Welcome to the growing world of the maestro of mayhem with dialogue to die with and sound effects from the percussion section.

Forget Charlie.The number one star -- and Chan -- in today's cinema is Jackie Chan. He is 43, short and tough with a big nose, wide smile and a happy personality. His movies blanket Asia and their influence is already part of mainstream box office Hollywood .

And as Britain says goodbye to Hong Kong it can welcome the arrival of a macap movie genre. The film business, like everything else in the Colony, is changing. It is not sudden. Asian audience are fed-up with slapdash action epics -- they think the directors not the bad guys should have received the kung-fu kiss-off. And the change will be felt -- and heard -- at High Street cinemas worldwide.

The diet of movies cranked out on tiny budgets in a couple of weeks sated audiences for Hong Kong made productions.Ticket sales have plunged nearly fifty percent in the past five years. Even the Triads, the Chinese gangs keenly involved in the local film business, are pulling out.

But the only place Jackie Chan is going is to a cinema near you. As Schwarzenegger fades, the sun rises on Bruce Lee's heir, the action star who is intent on breaking -- in every sense -- into the global market.

America took the first onslaught: now it's Europe 's turn with ‘Jackie Chan's First Strike' ( June 13) and the bravado ‘Rumble in the Bronx ' ( July 4) opening in the UK . The first has Chan involved with international espionage while the second is a frenetic action comedy with all the usual useless evildoers and an action auteur friendly plot.

‘Rumble' was the first Hong Kong action movie to open as number one at the American box office. It beat the John Travolta military thriller ‘ Broken Arrow ' which was directed by Hong Kong action director John Woo.

Woo returns again this summer ( this time with Travolta and Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage) with the big budget ($80 million) futuristic terrorist adventure ‘Face Off'. There is also work upcoming from director Ringo Lam -- Quentin Tarantino's ‘Reservoir Dogs' was inspired in part by his 1987 film ‘City of Fire' -- and a string of movies involving Woo favourite, the tough-as-titanium and wonderfully monickered Chow Yun-fat ( pronounced: just-the-way-he-wants-it).

And there's still Jack Chan to kick around. This is his second attempt at becoming an international superstar. The first was was reflection of the 1980s -- gross and expensive. Chan made his American debut with ‘The Big Brawl' in 1980 and followed-up a year later with Burt Reynolds' ‘Cannonball Run' which was about as believable as Reynolds' toupee. Chan was a stereotyped Japanese racing driver taking second place to some Las Vegas lounge acts.

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