×

Jackie Chan’s ‘Chinese Zodiac’ Marks New Phase in Star’s Career

59-year-old star is evolving but not slowing down

While his Hong Kong colleagues such as Chow Yun-fat, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh — who each took a crack at Hollywood in the late ’90s — have all slowed their tempo, Jackie Chan, at 59, seems to be busier than ever.

“I have always focused on doing both Hollywood movies and Chinese movies. I shot “Karate Kid,” then I made “CZ12” (aka “Chinese Zodiac”). I just finished shooting “Police Story 2013” and will do “Skiptrace” and then probably “Karate Kid 2” next year. It really depends on the story and script,” Chan tells Variety.

Few living actors can claim the kind of clout that Chan pulls on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. In Hong Kong and particularly in China, his name remains a strong magnet for investors, and while he may work with the studios most of the time in the U.S., he has been able to get the greenlight for personal projects such as “Skiptrace” that he has kept on the back burner for decades.

But Chan told press at the Cannes Film Festival “CZ12” might well be the last action blockbuster the Hong Kong native will be toplining. That would fit the recent trend in his career: He has been slowly but surely injecting more drama than action into his Chinese films such as “New Police Story,” “Shinjuku Incident” and “Little Big Soldier” in the past few years. He says he is also developing an “English-language dramatic movie that will have action.”

All of it seems to mark a new direction for the action star who, about five years ago, split with longtime managers Willie Chan and Solon So and moved his Hong Kong headquarters to Beijing where he now resides. His wife, former Taiwanese actress Lin Feng-jiao, is now managing his career and businesses.

He started off 2013 with a bang with the Indiana Jones-styled “CZ12,” another revived project that began with 1987’s “Armor of God” and its sequel, which became the third-highest grossing film of all time in mainland China, raking in $140 million. The title refers to 12 treasures of the Chinese Zodiac signs that are stolen. The film set two Guinness World Records for the most stunts ever performed by a living actor and for the most film credits (15) held by anyone in a single movie.

All in all, it’s not a bad showing for the former stuntman who has stayed consistently at the top of his game since he got his first big break in “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow” in 1978. After 101 movies, most of them with Chan toplining (after he was given the chance to fill Bruce Lee’s rather large shoes in the late ’70s), he could be forgiven if he moderated his frenetic working pace. But, if you think that he might running out of stories to tell, you can think again — it’s only that he might just tell them in a different style.

“CZ12” will have its North American premiere as “Chinese Zodiac” on June 10 as a precursor to a retrospective of Chan’s films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the New York Asian Film Festival on June 23-27.

Chan will also be presented with a Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    'Angel Has Fallen' to Dominate Modest Box Office With $20 Million Weekend

    Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are leading the way at the North American box office with “Angel Has Fallen” on its way to about $20 million, early estimates showed Friday. Should forecasts hold, “Angel Has Fallen” will take in about double the next title, Universal’s second weekend of raunchy comedy “Good Boys” with about $10 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content