Everyone who has watched Jackie Chan before knows that he is a master entertainer. The way he mixes comedy elements with death-defying stunts and amazing choreographies makes the perfect receipt for a good 90 minutes of fun. A little note though, this list follows no particular order even if the higher positioned titles may indicate higher favoritism on my part.
Jui kuen (1978)
I was a follower of Jackie Chan movies on TV long before watching Drunken Master, but it was when I watched this movie that I found out that there was much more to this artist then what was passing on TV.
Drunken Master is a cool movie, it is especially cool in its original Cantonese soundtrack which is incredibly hard to find. In this movie Jackie Chan plays the role of an undisciplined pupil who later gets humiliated by this rabid assassin who is killing off every local martial arts master. The boy eventually meets a drunken old man who learns of his story and welcomes him as his pupil. The charismatic old man, who reveals himself as a master himself, proceeds to discipline and teach the boy, with very unique teaching methods one might add, the fine arts of drunken boxing! A peculiar kung fu style whose "strength" comes from the numbed drunk body!
The premise of this movie is nothing out of the ordinary for the time! When plots were more ludicrous then the next one! There's a lot a fun in the journey for discipline and power that Jackie Chan's character takes to payback the killer. If there's one thing I learned from this movie is that a little bit of charisma, amusing fights and slapstick comedy are enough to make a highly entertaining martial arts flick!
The Legend of Drunken Master
Jui kuen II (1994)
So, as if one crazy journey of goofy and hilarious kung fu fights and drunk punches weren't enough, another crazy journey follows, 16 years later!
The intention of this movie is not entirely clear. Some regard it as a sequel, though it seems as a somewhat indirect one since it doesn't mention the events of the previous movie, while others take it as a new storyline or remake of the original Drunken Master. In any case, it can be considered a bit of both since the main character is the same and the story is of a later date.
In this movie, Jackie Chan's character is a more grown-up and mature man. His actions and their consequences still require some reflection, though! The main character here faces a moral dilemma actually: respecting his father's wishes of a peaceful fight-less life, or stopping a bunch of foreign disrespectful artifact robbers! However, the plot reveals itself to be a little more complicated than that, and this leads to one of the most amazing, stunning and breathtaking fight scenes any Jackie Chan movie has ever had. Or any other classic Hong Kong movie for that matter. In my opinion, the best kung fu fight scene ever.
While still maintaining the same goofy atmosphere of the original Drunken Master, this movie sacrificed some of the slapstick elements to raise the bar for the quality of the action scenes. I think it did a masterful job at that. It's hard to pick the better movie, they are both on the same level, although this one gets those extra points for the incredible final fight scene.
Fei lung mang jeung (1988)
When I started my journey of consuming all this good classic Jackie Chan content, I quickly read about Dragons Forever, but never actually had the chance to watch it until much later comparing to the others on this list. And oh boy am I so glad I did it, because this movie is so much fun!
Dragons Forever brings together long-time favorite Hong Kong action stars Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo and Yuen Biao. This is not their first collaboration together (in fact, it's the last one), so you'll find a couple more movies with this trio as you go down this Jackie Chan list. I can't delve much into the story of this movie because honestly, I didn't catch much of it. The thing with this movie is that it focus on these three characters who start to work for this sinister company. Coincidentally, all three of these particular guys know their kung fu, and become involved in such a crazy plot, that they will have to fight their way out of it, scene after scene!
The antics of these guys are so crazy and hilarious, that I question the credibility of this movie when it starts to get serious! Following the same formula as the previous movies, Dragons Forever does end up with one incredibly brutal fight that will certainly please every fan of a good old kung fu fight scene.
Ging chat goo si (1985)
Police Story is the movie that introduced the more serious tone of Jackie Chan to larger masses. And does it do it well. The acting and the story of this movie are serious and strong, and even dramatic as more delicate events unfold.
I will not delve much more into the premise of this movie, it deals with the conflict of the main character and the drug lords that framed him for the death of another cop. The movie itself develops nicely, delivering an interesting storyline with great action scenes, of which some are presented with incredible violence. Not for the typical slapstick comedy style of action fan, but still recommended for any Jackie Chan enthusiast out there. This is a great movie in general.
Amazon Price: $19.97 $12.84 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 11, 2015)
Wheels on Meals
Kuai can che (1984)
Getting back to the goofy style! Wheels on Meals is another classic Hong Kong gem with the legendary trio I mentioned before in Dragons Favor, and a Jackie Chan movie not widely known.
In this movie we have two cousins (Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao), owners of a mobile restaurant, whose day will completely change when they meet a beautiful pickpocket Spanish woman in distress! They eventually team up with a private detective (Sammo-Hung) and together, as the three losers they are, they take on a bunch of crooks to save the criminal beauty!
This movie follows a formula similar to Dragons Forever. The characters are slowly introduced, they go through a bunch of insanely spectacular fights and acrobatics, delivering much appreciated gags in the process, and end up in this last boss scenario where they meet up... the final boss! The main villain here is the same as the one in Dragon's Forever (these casts were almost always recycled), and I must say that this guy (Benny Urquidez) delivered quite the punches back in the day! A particularity of this movie is that in the final fight scene, all of our goofy heroes team-up against a much superior fighter, instead of the typical Jackie Chan vs. leader type of fight.
Should you get this movie? If you like Jackie Chan's style and liked Dragons Forever, this is another one not to miss, the cast is simply top-notch as far as Hong Kong action movies goes.
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
Se ying diu sau (1978)
Getting back to the oldies, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow follows the exact same formula and pattern as Drunken Master from the same year. The production team and even the entire cast are the same! However, this film still has its merit. The choreographies and kung fu styles separate it from its "brother", and this one actually came out first, launching Jackie Chan as an action star.
What differentiates this movie from Drunken Master, is the fact that the main character here has no fighting experience whatsoever, and the fact that there is not a bad guy right from the start. The bad guy eventually appears and his relation to the old man is revealed.
Again, the fights are brilliantly choreographed, there are plenty of gags, the old man is boss and the bad guy has evil-looking eyes. Drunken Master still ranks as a superior movie, though. I'm not sure... there's just something about the drunken kung fu style that makes it so special. Nevertheless, If you enjoyed one of these movies, you ought to like the other one!
Police Story 2
Ging chaat goo si juk jaap (1988)
Another serious Jackie Chan police action movie. Police Story 2 follows the first one of the Police Story series, while having a new case to solve.
As a sequel, it lives up to the success of the first movie. The same advice applies here, this one is aimed at action buffs, but if you liked Police Story, hardly will you not enjoy its successor.
A reminder for the most distracted out there, this saga has two more movies worthy of your time if you are a fan. Super Cop (Police Story 3) is pretty good as well, and First Strike (Police Story 4), is an okay 007-ish type of action movie. I think the quality decreases a little with each movie, but overall this is a pretty worthwhile saga for Jackie Chan and action fans.
Amazon Price: $68.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 11, 2015)
Rumble in the Bronx
Hung fan kui (1995)
Another Jackie Chan movie more serious in tone. Rumble in the Bronx was one of the first movies to introduce Jackie Chan to western audiences becoming quite popular then, and with good reason.
Rumble in the Bronx plot is quite simplistic. Jackie Chan's character moves to new York to see his uncle and ends up helping him with his market. He finds out that the area has been beeing vandalized by local street gangsters and tries to deal with them. The problem is that our hero becomes involved in a much darker situation.
This movie has some comedy and endearing moments, but on the whole it is much more violent than the typical Jackie Chan action movie. Almost on par with Police Story, the main character will see himself in tough situations hard to deal with.
I like the more realistic approach of this movie compared to the more goofy ones, and Jackie Chan has a pretty cool role here. And again, the fight scenes and tricks Jackie Chan pulls are all very good and candy for the eyes.
The Young Master
Shi di chu ma (1980)
I've seen this movie quite a while ago and never got a chance to re-watch it (contrary to others on this list), so my memory fails me a little on this one. I still decided to include it in this list, because this movie gathers in one single package all the elements that make Jackie Chan special.
The Young Master, although not having a spectacular storyline, delivers what any Jackie Chan fan wants to see, and does it spectacularly. A curious observation by the way, this was Jackie Chan's directorial debut!
There is also a sequel to this movie equally funny and filled with incredible stunts, Dragon Lord.
Winners and Sinners
Qi mou miao ji: Wu fu xing (1983)
And so I end this list with the goofiest of all slapstick kung fu Hong Kong movies, Winners and Sinners! Probably the lesser known movie of this list.
A fact about Winners and Sinners: Jackie Chan is not the main character! With Sammo-Hung and Yuen Biao (I've talked about them before), this is the first movie featuring all three legendary Hong Kong actors, as well as a few other very funny actors. The movies tells the story of 5 friends fresh out of prison, who try to stay clear of bad deeds, but become involved in a triad war! Jackie Chan's supporting character is brilliant as the clumsy cop, and granted, his appearances and fights are outstanding!
This movie is just too much fun, and if you tolerate classic Hong Kong slapstick comedy you'll love it! Winners and Sinners is very similar to Dragons Forever and Wheels on Meals, in which the movie presents you with many characters and their mishaps, take you through gags and martial arts mayhem, and end up giving you one big and awesome final fight scene. In this case, the one that shines at the end is Sammo Hung, not Jackie Chan.
Even if Jackie Chan is not the main character here and there are other more popular movies of his around, he shines when around these other great actors, and I honestly believe this is a great choice to finish the list. I greatly enjoyed the movie, and if you like the other Jackie Chan movies on this list, you will be fully entertained by Winners and Sinners, guaranteedly!
Winners and Sinners is part of the Lucky Stars Hong Kong trilogy, followed by My Lucky Stars and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, both starring Jackie Chan. So do check them out if you watch and enjoy this one!
I hope you liked it! Jackie Chan is a legend and as the fan I am of him, I made this sincere list of what I think are 10 of his best Hong Kong movies. He has plenty more movies out there, heck he has over a hundred appearances in movies! So there is much more to choose from and possible hidden gems you have yet to dig out. Who knows, I'll make another list of his more recent Hollywood movies in the future. If you liked this article, check out my Top 10 Jet Li Movies as well!
Have great movie sessions!
Amazon Price: $26.18 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 11, 2015)