15 min read

On Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan And My Dad

Jackie Chan is my childhood hero and this is my way of showing appreciation, respect and salute to him. I love him and have many memories with him. So here is a somewhat glimpse of my interaction with Jackie along so many years.

Dad’s Story on Exercising

My dad is a hero and so is yours. In most of the families, mom works at home and dad brings in the food. The interaction with your dad is limited because of the time constraint – but it is solid.

You ask for some cash to buy the cola drink and he happily gives you. Your mom in the background goes crazy because she fears if or when you might get spoilt.

But then the relationship continues like this and your bond only gets stronger. Doesn’t matter if the time is limited, you spend quality time and that’s what matters a lot.

My dad used to drink a lot. Every day he would go for a night shift, drink in the morning and then come back home. But before he drinks alcohol, every day he will exercise in the gymnasium.

So his daily routine consisted of doing the work, losing the calories to stay fit and then drink the alcohol which is quite dangerous. When you drink a lot, it isn’t a good thing for your body. But luckily he was fit and strong too. Other people would come and take his advice on how to stay fit, do the exercises and so on.

But he used to work only 5 or 6 days a week. So generally Saturday and Sunday was the time when he was home.

So he would go out, meet with friends and have a blast. At the end of the day, he has to do some exercise because it made him feel good.

Therefore, every weekend in the evening, he will exercise hardcore at home. Do push-ups, lift weights, do the skipping on the rope and so on. And it will be intense. It was fascinating to watch him do the stuff which seemed impossible to us who were little kids. He was and is my hero who could do anything.

Of course, no one is purely black or white, there are shades of grey. But for this story, I am leaving the dark shades. Not because I want to project something good – but because this part is relevant to the story.

In my area, the Hollywood movies were not so much in the hype. We used to watch only the movies in the local language. Partly because the western culture was something distant for us to understand anything. And partly because it was in a language we didn’t know.

Then there came an initiative – remember this is pre-internet, smartphone or computer evolution for me and my family.

A local channel decided to show the movies of Chinese and English language in our local language.

On Saturdays, it will be a martial arts movie and on Sunday, it will be some action Hollywood movie. This was done so that many people might have access to something which they couldn’t because of a language barrier.

And boy oh boy, this was a magical part in my life. For a kid, who has seen lame movies and understood none of it, this was some gold.

My dad used to exercise in the evening. So the movie timing was perfect because it gave him motivation. And among the movies which were telecasted – most of them were of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan among others. And if you have watched Jackie Chan, chances are you know he is a legend. And you can’t help but fell in love with him.

So every weekend, it became a routine for the kids in the house and dad to do some exercise while watching Jackie Chan movies.

Of course, we didn’t understand a bit – but it made us laugh, cry and made us awe. And our dad pushed us to do some exercise citing him as the example.

That was my first encounter with Jackie Chan and from there it only went deep. Moving on I would watch every movie of his. And at this point, I can say I have watched almost all of his movies. And some movies have been watched multiple times. Even today, if a movie comes up in television, you might find me glued to the screen.

The next few weekends were tough – because I was pushing hard. My naive mind didn’t realize that you can’t achieve such big things in a short amount of time.

But the best thing that happened to me is the ability to skip ropes. Since all the other exercise was hard for me, I resorted to skipping rope. And slowly I started doing it more and now I can skip about 100 and I have done maximum 300 in one go.

I am glad that Jackie Chan made such an impact in my life. Accelerated my fitness and gave me forward momentum to do something – skipping a rope be it.

The love for Jackie Chan runs deep. And no matter if he is unaware of the fact that I exist, my love, passion, and respect for him will be there forever. The work he did span many years and the work will live on for centuries to come. It takes a high amount of caliber, discipline, vision, and action to become the Jackie Chan. And no matter how much you try, he is the one and only – because he created, delivered and lasted many years of harsh critics, changing audiences and taste. Something which only a select few can claim to do. And when you are Jackie Chan, you are the Jackie Chan – no one even comes close to you.

Bruce Lee the first hero

Jackie Chan wasn’t my first hero. Of course, my dad is the first. But then when I started watching the movies involving martial arts, I was introduced to Bruce Lee. And boy he is amazing.

My dad used to tell how Bruce Lee could do anything – the amount of control he showcased had made him the undefeatable person he was. Despite living a short life and a limited number of movies, his impact and contributions are unmatched. Because he is undoubtedly the best in martial arts.

As the saying goes, he did some pretty unconventional things which challenged the status quo. He learned from various sources and mixed them – and made his own martial arts style.

That calls for a revolution. Because when you are some kid who is lost, you don’t go on and learn something as intense as martial arts. And even when you do so, you don’t try to perfect it to the extreme level. He went on to create ‘Jeet Kune Do’ which he created by mixing other martial arts form. He pioneered how to fight and defeat the opponent in a short amount of time. Legends say once he was fighting with someone in the street and he won the fight. But it took him 3 minutes.

For people like us, winning is all. But for him, he was sad because he couldn’t win in 1 minute. So he worked hard and developed different techniques to become powerful.

To a level such that he could win in any fight within lowest time possible. From here, came the invention of 1-inch punch, 6-inch punch and doing 2 finger push-ups.

Bruce Lee even started his version of doing exercise – which was difficult to perform. For example, kicking the punching bag filled with sand until it breaks. Kicking high enough with power and not losing the balance.

Also, he could hold weird positions which put pressure on thighs, hamstrings, and core for hours. And when he got bored, he would do crunches continuously till he can. Not counting and boasting about it. Just doing the thing until it hits him.

Maybe he is the epitome of strength, values, discipline and doing the unthinkable. At a young age, he wrote a letter in which he wrote about the goals he wanted to achieve. And sure enough, he achieved all of it. Such was his determination that he worked hard towards it. As they say, there is no substitute for hard work. And when you excel at something, you have to work even harder to stay at that position.

No matter how many people come, Bruce Lee will be of the highest rank. Because he delivered so much in his journey that generations after generations are getting inspired.

Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao

Jackie Chan did many memorable movies with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. They are all good in martial arts and wear many hats like direction, action choreography, and music. They act in each other movies, together like good pals and compliment the movie.

When Jackie Chan is solo in a movie, it is funny and rocking. But when all three of them are in a movie, it is a blockbuster.

A sense of community holds them together. If you find some people who are talented and good teammate then why won’t you keep on working with them?

Of the numerous movies they did – Project A, Wheels On Meals and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars remains my favorite.

Can’t stop laughing and the simple yet amazing storyline makes you have a blast. Also in these movies, there are others especially in Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars who are frequent in Jackie’s movies. They have an innocent child-like quality and follow a simple plan – and get in trouble for their actions. And somehow they make it because after all, you want them too. At the end with fights, stakes so high and many painful moments, you still have a smile on your face.

Inspiration

Jackie Chan isn’t just your normal movie star who had his big and slow days. He is the one who has delivered in almost all of his movies.

And his choice of movies has made him a household name. Because he chooses to not do any adult thing so to make his movie family friendly. His philosophy is to create a good movie experience for the entire family.

Adding to that, he has inspired many people to take up martial arts as a defense mechanism and also as a way of life – to become fit.

Otherwise, also, he is an amazing human being with whom you can relate to within minutes. He has a captivating smile, his talks are centered on good things and he appreciates people, value them and is the humblest person ever. He doesn’t take his superstardom as granted. He works hard and embraces the warmth of love he received everywhere he goes.

A Big Leap In Movie Cinema

Martial arts movies had the same format – there would be people flying and breaking things, the storyline would be simple and no play on acting as such.

If you had watched many old martial arts movie then you would have realized they followed a monotonous structure and it is difficult to embrace them or tell them apart from each other. It was natural that after some time, you were bound to get bored with it.

Bruce Lee created a wave in the movie industry. His actions were thoughtful, swift and it was filled with charisma.

He brought with him a style of fighting which was new and hence no one had any experience with it. And because he was strong, knew how to act and blend the two worlds – he became a favorite for many filmmakers. Naturally, he became a sensation and everyone wanted to become like him. The film producers were eager to work with a superstar who understood the story, emotions, and action – and delivered a high-quality fighting scene. There was simply no match for him.

In one of his movies, Jackie Chan was a side character who was supposed to get beaten. And now when Jackie remembers the time, he feels blessed to have worked with him.

He even goes on to say – how he acted to seem hurt so that Bruce Lee would care more. You have no choice but to become a fan when you meet Bruce Lee.

And then Bruce died…

The people of China and Hong Kong lost a star and martial arts master. People were hungry for the movies but there were none which would come.

Then Jackie Chan came who was a promising actor in the new line of people. The movie producers liked him but they were aware that the people craved for Bruce Lee and his style. So they made movies with Jackie Chan with titles similar to the Bruce Lee movie titles. And the action scene would have the noises Bruce would make.

In many movies, there will be a tagline too, ‘The Next Bruce Lee’ to lure people in the movie theatres.

This trick didn’t work. People weren’t happy that another person who was imitating Bruce. And most of the movies tanked at the box office. Seemed like the martial arts genre of the movie was about to die.

Jackie did the unthinkable – he mixed humor with the action in the movies. He would get hurt, make faces and do slapstick silly humor and then jump back from heights with little to no rope work. This combination of doing humor and doing stunts all by himself marked a dent in the movie-making process that catapulted him to the heights of success which continues to this day.

Family Friendly Movies

This is a big decision to make in the world of cinema. It is easy and tempting to include nudity, show the lady in the short clothes and do adult comedy – because it will bring the people in the theatres.

But Jackie is different. He made sure that majority of his movies fall in the family-friendly zone. So that everyone in the family could watch his movies and share the moment.

He believes in the idea of doing the best for his audience. And that’s why he is so committed to his work which shows in the movies. He says, even if it takes you to do 10 different shots for getting a good take, go for it. Because you aren’t going to tell the audience that you were tired once the movie gets released.

So go on and do the work so that the audiences enjoy the movie when they buy the ticket and watch on the big screen.

Love from all over the world

The byproduct of having a career spanning for more than 50 years, doing work which entertains and still staying humble is humongous love. Everyone from around the world loves Jackie, you simply can’t do anything else.

As long as Jackie is alive, you will see a movie of his in theatres near you. It will challenge, entertain and make a dent in your life.

And if you are an action fan then you have to follow Jackie’s movie. Because without that, your fandom, praise, and knowledge will be incomplete.

A life with all the riches is something many people can claim to have in their life. But a life with love showering from almost every one is something very few people can boast of. And that too with little to no controversy surrounding around him.

Singing career

When you do martial arts for a long time, you end up with a body with lots of injuries. And the old age kicks in where you can’t do most of the things which you did in the young times.

Jackie is on another level, he might still do all of the things which are risky in nature. But considering his age, it isn’t wise to do many things.

A singer is expected to sing a few lines, a dancer is expected to show off some of the dance moves. Likewise, Jackie is expected to show his martial arts skill in interviews and shows. And sure enough, he did those things in many shows, breaking bricks, flower pots and showing kicks and punches.

But doing it often is a real pain. So he thought of a simple solution – add a different skill set so he can show that whenever required.

So he learned singing – he did know some of it as a kid. But now he developed it further and sang many songs. From the 1980s till today, he had sung more than 90 songs in different languages and he is a prolific singer.

Now when he is invited to a show or an interview, if he feels like not doing kicking then he goes singing.

Stunts And Injuries

When your craft spans so many years and involves injuries at this scale, injuries happen. And Jackie had every part of his body teared up, beaten and bones broken.

The sight of the stunt he is about to perform is ground shaking. Imagine standing there and waiting for the director to go action. Waiting and seeing deep into the fall. No matter how much of a daredevil you are, seeing things scary and waiting raises the level of frightening.

Doing something quickly is always better. But Jackie does it as per the scene, redo the action if necessary. And doesn’t mind giving takes even if he lands up in hospital.

Consequently, he has the most number of stunts and most number of takes – as a world record. And sure enough, it would take more than a lifetime for someone else to even touch it. Because guess what he is still working.

Unique Choreography – Like Dance

If you have watched Jackie’s movie then I am sure you are aware of his dance-like choreography. He moves quick, runs, makes faces and then moves in a beautiful manner. It is almost poetic. And in many movie scenes, there have been jazz or pop music and the fight scene goes well.

Also, he wants his movies to showcase a certain kind of choreography. He has a team with him who is well versed in his style.

And because of the nature of the stunts, there is no insurance companies who back JC and their team.

How badass of person you have to be such that the stunts which you can do like cakewalk are so hardcore that every insurance company had blacklisted you.

The Animation cartoon story

Watching movies of Jackie is a delight in itself. Then he turned to the cartoon industry and a cartoon series ran which was amazing.

The best part was that it featured the same type of fighting style – making funny faces. The storyline was quite straight – an innocent Jackie minding his own business. His uncle and nephew try to do something and then they all get in trouble. An no one else to turn, Jackie has to save them all.

It featured a common villain – they were collecting the stone pieces to make the devil alive from its form. But no worries, Jackie is here.

As an added bonus, after every episode, he used to come for a 1-minute tip on life, exercise, and some nostalgic story.

The Cuttings Of Newspaper

Being an ultimate fanboy was my delight for Jackie. Back in the days when the internet was new and the computer was something uncommon, television, newspaper, and magazines were of high importance.

Once in a while – a newspaper would do a column on Jackie Chan and I would go crazy. Immediately, I would cut the newspaper and collect it.

Doing this for so long, I had more than 100 clips of paper. When I would find some peaceful time, I would go and read some of the columns. It was my guilty pleasure to indulge in this activity.

But once I grew up – the internet came. And I could watch Jackie all day. The charm was suddenly lost. My interest grew to many different things and so I burned all the newspaper cuttings.

I still adore that feeling and look back to those days as I am doing by writing this piece. But I grew up. And now, I have immense respect for Jackie Chan and would still watch the movies. But I am not going as crazy as I was before.

A man with no power yet superhuman

What Jackie does is so out of the league for humans that it can be said – he is a superhuman. Of course, he fears the same as you and me. But he is brave enough to still act on it and utilize all his training.

If I could dream of power then it has to be – becoming Jackie Chan. Because he is just another human being but with the best possible training which has enabled him to get the fit body. Coupled with his courage, there is nothing stopping him from doing the impossible task.

And as the legendary monkey from Dexter (cartoon series) said – you can break my bones, body but you can’t break my soul. Similarly, for Jackie Chan, you can break his body and he will take the pain with a smile. But he would still do the stunt and bring out a smile on your face. Because he is doing it for your entertainment – analogous to the superhuman – taking all the pain for you to live happily.

Jackie’s Kid Isn’t Same

No matter how much you desire, there is no guarantee on how your kid is going to turn out. And as such Jackie expected to teach his kid martial arts and make him do cool things.

But his kid didn’t want any of that. So you can be the world’s best martial arts master but still, you can’t pass it on to your kids. Because each kid is different and they can turn out in either direction.

And parents are not to be blamed. Because there are many factors which are uncertain. Being a parent, all you can do is give your best.

Rest is up to the kid and how she interacts with the world. And how she matures and adopts the thinking capacity.

Tony Jaa and Others

After Jackie, if there is anyone who is awesome like a boss then it is Tony Jaa. Because Tony takes the stake one level up.

Jackie does all of his stunts by himself. But whenever there is a high risk involved, he resorts to wire-work as necessary. Tony took it to another level by not using any rope or wire work while still delivering stellar performance.

But he didn’t go on to do many movies. Probably because he is yet to learn many acting ranges and he has shown most of what he could do in a single movie.

So it is harder for him to reinvent. Because he doesn’t do comedy like Jackie. That’s where Jackie is smart – he choreographs the action, scene, and humor so every time there is something new for the audience.

Cool to Meet Him

I would totally want to meet him. Probably be in awe and spend an evening with the humongous star of our century.

Of course, for him, it would be just another fan but for me, it is like seeing the hero we need. I am glad he contributed so much for the cinema, martial arts and humor to the world.

Chances are he will die before I manage to meet him. And it will be a sad moment. But he will live on forever as a hero.

And his smiling face will always remind me that a difficult situation will arise and when you are trying hard, it will look like a comedy to the outsider. But it is all well and ends well when you give your best.

Now go make something. Because you can and we are counting on you.

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