CHAPTER 2: MEETING A LIVING LEGEND
I pulled up to the studio, parked and rushed in ready to meet Jackie Chan! But of course, he wasn’t there yet. When you’re an international superstar, people wait for you. I warmed up while Master Chang gave JJ and I a little pep talk then chatted a bit with Curtis and some of the riggers. I could barely contain the excitement I was feeling. At any moment JACKIE CHAN would be in the same room as me! The anticipation was KILLING me! Time was passing so slowly! Then…it happened.
I was stretching in the back when the sound of the large studio garage door opening turned my head. The sunlight from outside streamed in as the door slowly rolled up. My eyes, momentarily blinded by sun quickly adjusted. A group of Chinese people walk in, my eyes scanning every one of their faces to see if he was there, but he wasn’t. Then…behind them, walking by himself was none other than JACKIE CHAN! I had to do a double take! I couldn’t believe it! Here, only meters away from me stood the legend himself. Star of Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Mr. Nice Guy, Operation Condor, and of course Rush Hour! I felt like I was watching a movie…but LIVE!
Everyone seemed to stand at attention in the presence of this big screen hero. Everyone’s eyes were focused on him alone. A car crash could’ve been happening right behind us and we wouldn’t have noticed. Time seemed to slow down as Jackie Chan, his body silhouetted by the sun, glided in.
I was FREAKING OUT – on the inside of course! Outside I think I was frozen in shock.
Bronco walked over to greet him. Jackie introduced Bronco to one of his entourage members who I later found out was Andy Cheng – member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team (JC Team for short) and big time Hong Kong stunt co-ordinator, fight co-ordinator, director, and stuntman extraordinaire! (On a side note he has since left the JC Team and is a stunt co-ordinator in Hollywood. I met up with him a few years later in San Francisco attending a mutual friend’s wedding.)
Jackie wanted to get right down to business. Curtis was first up. He had rehearsed a wire gag taking several steps up the wall and into a huge back flip off. I watched Jackie’s reaction. He whispered something to Andy. Andy walked up to Bronco and asked if it was possible to take a few steps and do a front flip into the wall.
“A front flip?? Is that even possible?” I thought to myself.
Of course today, with the rising popularity of Parkour, people can do that sort of thing without wires, but this was 2003 and David Belle was just starting the Parkour movement! No one had ever seen or even thought of doing a front flip into the wall! Bronco asked if there was something wrong with Curtis’s back flip – I think he might’ve been a little nervous because we hadn’t rehearsed, or even though to rehearse a front flip. Andy began to speak, but Jackie cut in and said something along the lines of, “Everyone has seen a back flip off a wall, I want to do different,” that was when it hit me – Jackie Chan was a genius! It wasn’t about doing cool moves, it was about being the first to introduce cool moves to the public! I later learned that Jackie is always thinking outside of the box, looking for and experimenting with new gimmicks, gadgets, and ideas to put into his movies. Anybody can choreograph a fight with cool moves, but what separates Jackie from the crowd is his fighting style. He doesn’t just have cool moves – it’s the situation he uses them in combined with the environment he finds himself in. A warehouse, a bar, on the street, a double decker bus, the roof of a sky scraper, the SIDE of a sky scraper, even under water! The list goes on and on! His fights continually “WOW!” the audience and leave them wanting more!
As it turns out JJ and I didn’t end up doing anything, we just sat at the back of the studio watching Jackie and Andy brainstorm ideas. I guess they already had all the experience with martial arts and wires that they needed!
The entire time my eyes were glued to Jackie and I wanted to sprint towards him, shake his hand, introduce myself, and tell him how cool, awesome, incredible, wicked, crazy, innovative, inspirational, and godly he was – but that would have been unprofessional. So I sat there wanting more than anything to at least shake his hand so I could tell people, “I shook Jackie Chan’s hand!” As the minutes passed, I realized that Jackie was almost done…this would probably be the last time I’d be this close to him ever again. I convinced myself that just being in the same room as Jackie Chan was good enough…