Jackie Chan's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Karate Kid star.
More than 15 years after 1978's Drunken Master made him a star, Chan returned to the role of Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung for this sequel. Originally titled Drunken Master II and belatedly released in America as The Legend of Drunken Master, this set of adventures finds Wong inadvertently embroiled in a battle over Chinese relics that are being smuggled out of the country by British ambassadors. Naturally, he needs to call upon his unparalleled skills as a master of the Zui Quan, or "drunken fist," fighting method, culminating in an epic 20-minute fighting sequence that left Roger Ebert stunned. As Kenneth Turan succinctly put it for the Los Angeles Times, "This is one of the films that made Jackie Chan Jackie Chan."
4. Police Story
Stung by the failure of The Protector, Chan refocused his efforts on the East Asian film market, directing and co-writing this fast-paced action-comedy hit, which went on to win Best Film at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards. The story, naturally, focuses on a police officer (Chan) whose unwavering determination to bring down a notorious gangster (Yuen Chor) results in some pretty epic property destruction (not to mention a not-inconsiderable amount of damage to Chan's body), concluding with a no-holds-barred showdown in a shopping mall. The beginning of a hugely successful franchise that has spawned multiple sequels, a spinoff, and a reboot, Police Story earned the admiration of critics such as the Montreal Film Journal's Kevin L. Laforest, who wrote, "Chan is jumping everywhere, breaking through windows and using whatever he finds as a weapon. So, this ain't his best film, but you can't deny that he's an amazing performer, and the picture remains great entertainment."
Three years after Police Story arrived in theaters, Chan followed it with the first of several sequels. As Police Story 2 opens, our hero has been assigned highway patrol duty as punishment for the havoc wreaked during his arrest of crime boss Chu Tao at the end of the first movie. Diagnosed with a terminal illness, Chu is granted an early release from prison; predictably, he uses his newfound freedom as a way of tormenting Inspector Chan -- who's also having a rough time at home, where his girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) wants him to stop pursuing dangerous cases. Of course, May is eventually kidnapped by Chu, and it isn't giving anything away to say Chan eventually saves the day, but unlike most sequels that repeat their predecessors, Police Story 2 delivers where it really counts. Raising the death-defying action stakes, Chan earned the admiration of fans and critics like the Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov, who wrote, "This second Ka-Kui adventure rests comfortably in-between the others, overflowing with Chan's patented stuntwork and comic high jinks, and as such, it's a fine introduction to the Jackie Chan phenomenon."
2. Crime Story
Unlike most of Jackie Chan's movies, Crime Story is mostly devoid of comedy -- which makes sense, given that it dramatizes the real-life 1990 kidnapping of Chinese businessman Teddy Wang, a billionaire whose vast wealth made him an irresistible target for extortionists. Unfortunately, the police officers pursuing Wang's abductors didn't have the benefit of Crime Story's screenwriters, or a cop with the amazing action powers of Jackie Chan; Wang was never found after his second kidnapping, and was declared legally dead in 1999. Though Crime Story is a decidedly serious entry in Chan's filmography, he still manages to defeat the bad guys and come to the rescue in the end -- and earn some of the best reviews of his career in the process. Variety's Derek Elley, for one, applauded it as "a career swerve" for Chan, and "a dark-edged cop thriller in which the star's stunts play second fiddle to plot and mood."
Jackie Chan took his Police Story franchise to mainland China for the third installment, Police Story 3: Super Cop (later released in America as the more succinctly titled Supercop, in the wake of Rumble in the Bronx's success). This entry teams Police Inspector Chan with Interpol agent Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh) on a mission to take down the notorious drug lord Chaibat (Kenneth Tsang), and finds Chan infiltrating a prison gang to gain the trust of Chaibat's trusted lieutenant Panther (Yuen Wah). Due to the franchise's wild popularity, Supercop was able to add a number of locations to its story's twists and turns; the action moves from Hong Kong to China and back again, then to Kuala Lumpur, finally culminating in a typically amazing chase scene involving high-speed trains and an exploding helicopter. It is, in the words of Film.com's John Hartl, "An astonishingly fluid and funny movie that makes most American action pictures seem lethargic."
In case you were wondering, here are Chan's top ten movies according RT users' scores:
1. The Legend of Drunken Master -- 87%
2. Drunken Master -- 87%
3. Police Story -- 86%
4. Rush Hour -- 84%
5. Project A -- 81%
6. Shanghai Noon -- 78%
7. Police Story 2 -- 75%
8. Rumble in the Bronx -- 74%
9. The Forbidden Kingdom -- 73%
10. Who Am I? -- 72%
Finally, here's a fanmade video of Jackie's self-proclaimed favorite stunts, based on a list from his book: