Colonialism in Jackie Chan Films
For over 20 years Jackie Chan has been the biggest action star in most of the world. First becoming popular in his native Hong Kong in the early 80s, his popularity slowly spread across the globe, and finally hit the U.S. with the 1996 release of Rumble In The Bronx (1994.) Since then Chan has made three highly successful films with American studois and several more with the Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest. He is easily one of the most recognizable Asian movie stars or all-time. Jackie Chan’s movies are famous for their over-the-top stunts and hilarious-but-amazing fight scenes, so much so that the actual plots of the films are sometimes forgotten. However, if one looks past the all the fights and laughs present in almost all of Jackie Chan’s films and just examines the stories behind them, an odd set of recurring themes soon make themselves present. Many of Chan’s best and most well-known works are attacks on colonialism and racism, not just in Hong Kong, but also across the world. At the same time Chan is making these rather blatant anti-colonial films, other films of his seem to be defending colonialism while reinforcing negative stereotypes about the Chinese people and even other races. Some of his films even seem to do both, attack and defend colonialism, at the same time. It is my goal to show that the majority of Jackie’s films, especially his more recent work, all deal heavily with themes of colonialism and racism, whether it is good or bad, and that this has to do greatly with Hong Kong’s relationship with Europe and America. I will also attempt to show, that while Jackie has begun to make films in America, his anti-colonialism, and to some extent his anti-European and anti-American views have changed very little.
“You’re Stealing our heritage” The evils of British Colonialism
In Drunken Master II (1994) a group of British Colonials are smuggling rare Chinese artifacts out of the country and into British museums, where the Chinese people will never see them again. Jackie Chan, as the real-life Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, stops the British along with their Chinese cohorts from stealing the artifacts, saving the country’s heritage for generations to come.
Despite the fact that Wong Fei-Hung is a real person, this sequence of events never happened. It is no coincidence, however, that the person responsible for stopping the devious British colonials in the film, as well as many other films that do not feature Jackie Chan, is Fei-Hung. Wong Fei-Hung is China’s greatest hero, so much so that he is China, and to a lesser extent he is Hong Kong, representing many of Hong Kong’s basic beliefs, such as Confucian virtue and Cantonese tradition (Fore 124.) Hong Kong cinema has had a longstanding affair with Wong Fei-Hung, with over 100 films about him having been made in the past 50 years (Logan 10.) He represents many Chinese ideals, so his small victory over the British colonials can easily be...