Jackie Chan double feature

In Sylvester Stallone's Demolition Man, when Sandra Bullock triple-kicked some bad guy, Stallone asked, "Where did you learn to do that?"

"Watching Jackie Chan movies," said Bullock. I giggled at that line, but hardly anyone else in the theater got the joke. Instead a lot of loud whispers asked, "Who?"

Jackie Chan's movies are filmed in Chinese, and distributed stateside with subtitles, and play only in art-house and Chinatown theaters, so most Americans don't know what they're missing.

Much more than the language, the real difference between all the American action flicks and a Jackie Chan movie is that the American studios hire stunt men and special effects teams to make it look like Stallone is winning a fist-fight, or dangling from the side of a mountain. When you see an action stunt in a Jackie Chan movie, it's the star himself doing it, and he's really dangling from the side of a mountain. He's done the math, calculated the distances, choreographed the chop socky, and then he does the stunt. If there's any doubt, Chan's bloody bloopers and blunders are usually shown under the closing credits.

The guy is putting his ass and his life on the line to make you go "Ooooh" while you're chewing popcorn, and he'll probably die on camera when some insane stunt goes wrong, but until then I'll buy a ticket whenever a Jackie Chan movie plays in San Francisco.

Plus, he's a better actor than all the American fake-comedy that's almost as perfect as his stunt work.

Tonight's Jackie Chan double feature at the U.C. in Berkeley was Dragon Lord and Police Story 2. The first was a comedy with kicks, the latter an adventure with laughs. I've not yet seen the original Police Story, so I might have missed some of the sequel's subtle character development points, but both movies were great, which is to say, just your average Jackie Chan movies.

Oh, and as an unexpected bonus, they had Hong Kong Film Monthly for sale in the lobby at the theater — a special issue of the zine, dedicated to the films of Jackie Chan. I don't subscribe, because most Hong Kong films aren't that great, but an issue devoted to Jackie Chan is well-worth $2.50.

♦ ♦ ♦

When I checked my automated service after the movie, Maggie had left a message, so I went outside to the phone booth and called her back. She'd received her copy of last month's Pathetic Life and wanted to yell at me about it.

(Yeah, I know — first I said I would mail it to her, then I decided against it, and both those statements were true when I wrote them, dear diary, but a week later I changed my mind, what the hell, and mailed her a copy of the zine.)

She yelled for a few minutes, told me I had no right to have written about her. Well, I think I own the rights to my own damned life, and I said so. "Not the days I'm in it," she said, "but there won't be many more of those."

Maggie said she'd only read the parts of the zine that were about her, which of course nullifies the whole reason for sending her the zine. I mailed it to her because I wanted to let Maggie into my head, entirely. I want(ed) her to know me better, and maybe let me know her better, and all that romantic rot.

I mean, if she mailed me her diary, I'd be interested in what she wrote about me, certainly, but I'd also want to know what she's thinking on a random Thursday when I'm nowhere near. I wouldn't just flip to the bits about me, skip everything else, and then close her diary and watch TV.

After the yelling, she mellowed into Nice Margaret again, and said she wanted to read the zine out loud to her therapist. That's cool, I guess. I told my therapist, so to speak, when I wrote it. (Too delicate an allusion? I'm saying that I get some therapeutic value from dropping my word-turds into this zine.)

She yelled at me some more, for forgetting that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of our first boink. I said sorry, but I don't keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, and that's true. It's horrible to confess, so I didn't, but I don't even know Maggie's birthday — it's in February, I think, so I sent her something in February, but the exact date I couldn't tell you. Same with my brother (October something) and my best friend Bruno (July, I think, or maybe August?).

To end the phone call, we did that juvenile thing where neither of us says goodbye, which is supposed to be funny and usually is. She was yelling at me instead of giggling as we did the fake goodbyes, though, so after the third fake goodbye I hung up the phone and went back into my apartment.

From Pathetic Life #2
Thursday, July 14, 1994 

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Addendum 2021: Some years after the above, Jackie Chan became a mainstream action star in America, and most of his biggest hits have been re-edited into shorter, dumber versions, dubbed into English, and now those are the only versions of early Jackie Chan movies you can find, at least in America. Rumble in the Bronx, for example, was a great Jackie Chan action movie when it was first made, but it's been butchered for America into something more akin to Nickelodeon.

He's also made numerous rather blandly American action movies, like Shanghai Noon and its sequels. Perfectly ordinary action movies, forgettable and nothing special.

Politically, Chan is now an outspoken supporter of the Chinese Communist Party. He's one of the Chinese government's official spokesfolks against drug-use, and despite being born in Hong Kong he's very much opposed to HK's efforts to be free from Chinese rule.

My admiration for Jackie Chan ended when he said, "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

So, Jackie Chan made great movies, if you can find the original cut and dub, but Jackie Chan the man can kiss my pimpled white ass.



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