Jackie Chan is in Los Angeles promoting his latest movie, Forbidden Kingdom, which will be released nationwide on the 18th of April. For the first time ever, Jackie Chan and Jet Li can be seen on screen together in this action adventure tale of a teenage boy traveling back in time to ancient China to learn Kung-Fu from Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and the silent Monk (Jet Li).
Forbidden Kingdom and it’s writer John Fusco, clearly have a genuine admiration for the history of the cinema of martial arts, Kung Fu and Chinese folk lore. The pacing seemed disjointed and lethargic at times overly relying on self conscious high end production values, BUT (and it is a big but) it does have Jet Li and Jackie Chan busting heads, which buys a lot of leeway with any fight fan.
Anyway, enough of us and a little more of Jackie…
Are you happy with the movie, you have a reputation for being very critical of your work?
I would never make a movie like this, my instinct is to think this is a ridiculous movie with flying monkey kings and time travel, it is not a Chinese movie, it is a Hollywood movie, but I trust the director and I trust the American audience. John (John Fusco | writer) loves Kung Fu he and is very knowledgeable, so I don’t know if it matters if I am happy, but I know others are.
Michael Angarano plays your student in this movie, in the “Drunken Master” you were the student, how does it feel to have your roles reversed?
Yes your right, I don’t know how it feels, strange I suppose, it is an odd feeling, the time has passed so quickly, it has been 30 years since that movie (Drunken Master), my master is now dead and I am suddenly the master to the student, but this is the human condition, what else can you say.
This is not the first movie you wanted to work with Jet Li on, could you tell us about the original project?
Your right, about 15 years ago I approached Jet with a script I wrote, he was a cop and he had to chase me across the world, from Russia back to Beijing, but there was always something getting in the way of the making the movie, scheduling etc. Then an American studio took the script and paid $1 million dollars to have it re-written, but then I didn’t like the script and so on and so on. There is always middle men between Jet and I, when we would meet in person we would both want to work together, but then there were always people in the way. This movie was only possible because the producer, Casey Silver would phone me every ten days for years, checking up, always acting as a buffer, a coordinator between Jet and I to make sure this happened.
Your famous for being injured and this movie is no different, it is reported you hurt yourself during shooting, could you tell us a little more about how that happened?
(Laughs) You don’t get injured badly in American movies – insurance, stunt men, regulations, doctors it is impossible. I don’t remember hurting myself in this movie.
The movie references several classic martial art movies, could you name some of your favorite Kung Fu movies?
Drunken Master or Rush Hour – hahaha
What is it like to drunken fist style again after all this time?
I feel very embarrassed. I have to do it again, again, again while everybody sees me. I said before, Jackie Chan movie Drunken Master and especially in the west, Rush Hour 3, I’m supposed to get in a fight with “Drunken Master” and I say, “No, stop! Why does everybody want to me to fight ‘Drunken Master’?” This movie, in the beginning, I refused. I then find out it’s okay–it’s a kids’ movie because the young boys love it, then okay. Not anymore.
Did you enjoy wearing the wig?
Haha, every morning I would be in makeup at 5 am until 2pm and then we would start shooting, Rob Minkoff (Director) would say it is a wrap for the day after two scenes! Crazy, I would scream we must keep shooting, I wanted to get as much done as possible, the wig was horrible.
What was it like working with Jet Li?
On our first fight scene, we were shown the choreography, I asked to see it again, then Jet and I were both ready to go, normally you rehearse but we are experienced enough to go straight into it. Jet and I were so fast in the first take, that Rob (director) asked us to slow down, due to the high definition genesis camera not being able to keep up. Jet and I wanted to impress each other by going as fast as we could. It was very comfortable fighting with Jet, he knows exactly what he is doing and he is very fast. It is easy to hurt each other, but he knows how to hit, fast but soft, when to move, I really enjoyed it.
Watching the movie it is hard not to notice the locations, could you tell us a little more about them?
Well the locations to me are just normal, just another day, but Rob, the Director was blown away by them, he was constantly saying wow. We were on location for seven months, so the crew got very familiar with them.
This week the Olympics and Beijing has been in the press for the wrong reasons, how do you feel about Tibet, how would you like the Olympics to be represented?
I’m an Olympic Ambassador. Olympics is the Olympics and cannot mix with politics. Politics, for me, is love and peace united. Everything is Olympics, no matter what country. I just don’t know why in every country, when they have the Olympics, a lot of people come out to oppose. Like L.A., same, Russia, same, some others This year, everybody just because it’s in China, but it doesn’t happen in China. It happens everywhere. I just want to say please understand there are some naughty boys. They are, for no reason–they just want to show off on the TV. They know if I can get the torch, that I can get on the TV for the World News. That’s the wrong thing. They misunderstand. I said before, I go to make Chinese films, and Olympics are welcome. I will welcome, welcome, welcome.
Thank you to Jackie Chan!