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SPORTS HERO:
JACKIE CHAN
by Geeta Malik


Jackie Chan waited a few months longer than other children to be born--instead of nine months, he took twelve. Those three extra months forced his mother to have a caesarean section, and when Jackie finally emerged, he was a whopping twelve pounds! On April 7th, 1954, Jackie Chan was born in Hong Kong. The operation that his mother was forced to have put the Chan family in severe debt, and Chan's father nearly sold the newborn boy in order to pay the hospital. Luckily, his friends stepped in and raised enough money to keep little Jackie in the family.

Jackie grew up in poverty in Hong Kong until about the age of six. Then, in 1960, his family moved to Australia where his father took a job as a cook for the Australian Embassy. Jackie did so poorly in school there that he was never traditionally educated past the American equivalent of first grade. Instead, when he was seven, his family sent him back to Hong Kong to join the Peking Opera School. It was here that Jackie learned martial arts, acrobatics, singing, dancing and acting. He lived at the School until the age of 17, when he struck out on his own.


Jackie is the one getting his hair pulled.

At first, Jackie got lots of small roles in movies as an extra or a stuntman. In fact, one of Jackie's first movie appearances was in a Bruce Lee film called "Enter the Dragon," in whichJackie gets thrown through a wall by Lee. Then, as he gained more experience, he won lead roles. However, these roles were attempting to mold him into a second Bruce Lee, which Jackie wasn't quite comfortable with. His career did not really take off until 1978, in a movie called "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow." This movie allowed Jackie to show off more of his comedic abilities and he could define himself more as a character. The movie was a hit! His next film was even more successful--"Drunken Master" broke box office records. Jackie realized he liked having more control over his movies, and started to direct and choreograph them himself. In his movies, Jackie mainly showcases his knowledge of the Shaolin school of martial arts, sometimes using Hapkido and Wing Chun techniques as well.

Jackie tried to get into Hollywood several times, but with little success. Finally, in 1995, "Rumble in the Bronx" was released. Jackie immediately got attention for his incredible stunts, and the outtakes that would eventually become his trademark amazed audiences. Nobody could believe he really did everything they saw on-screen! Jackie stated that he never wants to cheat his audience, so he performs all his own stunts. Despite numerous accidents, some of which have left him hospitalized for days, Jackie continues to attempt daredevil tricks for the camera.

Jackie Chan does more than make incredible movies, though. He also founded the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong, and then in Japan. This foundation provides scholarships to needy students and assists injured performers and their families. He also has a Jackie Chan Youth Center in Hong Kong.

Jackie assists those in America as well as his home country. He raised $300,000 dollars for an organization called Self-Help for the Elderly, which is based in San Francisco. The organization dedicated a center for Alzheimer's patients in Jackie's name in gratitude for his efforts. Another organization, called the Jackie Chan Sends Warmth Movement, provided winter coats for the elderly and homeless.


Jackie Chan has come a long way from his poverty-stricken childhood in Hong Kong, but he hasn't forgotten that there are still people suffering. Besides using laughter to heal and entertain his audiences, Jackie continues to dedicate his time and money to worthwhile causes.


Written by Geeta Malik
Last changed on: 6/9/2004 10:47:12 PM

Jackie Chan---Our Man Chan! A great site dedicated to Jackie and other martial arts heroes.

 

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