Jackie's Top Ten Favorite Stunts
Stakeout," Police Story
As far as action is concerned, Police Story is my favorite movie I've ever made, a real whirlwind of slam-bang stunts and wild fights from beginning to end. To start things off right--that is to say, in an insanely exciting and dangerous way--Edward Tang King-sang and I scripted this opening sequence. My character and my fellow cops have been assigned to an undercover stakeout in an attempt to nab a notorious mobster. We set our trap along a winding mountain highway, taking up hidden positions throughout a rickety village of old tin and wood shacks. When our trap is sprung too soon, the dragnet turns into a disaster, as the gangsters try to escape by driving through the mountain village. Not "through" as in "zigzagging around the buildings," but through as in smashing into, over, and through the buildings. I quickly commandeer a car and begin a crazed chase down the slope after them. The car is smashed (as is the village), so I chase the crooks on foot. When they hijack a double-decker bus, I grab an umbrella, take a running leap, and hook its handle onto the rim of an open window! Hanging desperately onto the umbrella, I try to pull myself into the bus, but am eventually thrown clear. Scrambling down to a lower part of the highway, I draw my pistol, order the speeding bus to stop...and it does, just inches away from my body.
This is where I finally put the drop on the gangsters once and for all. Of course, I had to put the drop on myself in order to do it--literally. After a glass-shattering fight inside a shopping mall, I spot my target several floors below, on the ground level of an open atrium. The only way to get down from my perch in time to do my policeman's duty is to take a flying leap into the air, grab ahold of a pole wrapped in twinkling Christmas lights, and slide a hundred feet to the ground--through a glass-and-wood partition, onto the hard marble tile. We had to do this in one take, so I crossed my fingers and prayed that I'd hit the stunt the first time (and that I'd hit the ground softly). I made my jump, grabbed the pole, and watched the twinkling lights crack and pop all the way down, in an explosion of shattering glass and electrical sparks. Then I hit the glass. And then I hit the floor. Somehow I managed to survive with a collection of ugly bruises ... and second-degree burns on the skin of my fingers and palms.
"Clock Tower Tumble," Project A
After a wild bicycle chase through Hong Kong's back alleys, I find myself high in the air, dangling from the hands of a giant clock face. With no other way to get down than fall, I let go--and crash through a series of cloth canopies before smashing into the ground. I had to do this one three times before I was satisfied with the way it looked. Trust me, I wouldn't want to do it a fourth time.
"Going Down ..." Who Am I?
This scene was billed by my producers as the "world's most dangerous stunt." They were probably telling the truth--although just about any stunt is dangerous, if you do it wrong. (The stunt that nearly killed me took place less than fifteen feet off the ground, after all.) Luckily, I did it right. Eventually. Even though one of my stuntmen proved it could be done (from a lower level, of course), it took me two weeks to get up the nerve to try it myself. The sequence begins with me fighting it out with some thugs on the top of a very tall building in Rotterdam, Holland. After battling with them around the roof, and nearly falling off once or twice, I finally take the quickest possible trip to the sidewalk below--sliding down the side of the building, which is slanted nearly forty-five degrees, all the way to the ground. Twenty-one stories. If I ever have an amusement park, I'll be sure to turn this stunt into a ride.
"The Walls Come Tumblin' Down," Project A II
I saw Buster Keaton do this in Steamboat Bill, Jr., so of course I had to do it too. After running down the face of a ceremonial facade that's in the process of falling over, I narrowly escape being crushed by standing in the right place at the right time--with my body going through an opening in the facade as it crashes down right over me. It's all in the timing.
"No Way to Ride a Bus," Police Story II
Another chase sequence--this time running along the tops of moving buses, while narrowly dodging signs and billboards that pass overhead and around me. At the end of the chase, I leap through a glass window.... Unfortunately, I chose the wrong window as my target, and instead of hitting prop glass, I smashed through a real pane. Which left me in real pain.
I did this stunt just weeks after recovering from my near-fatal fall and serious brain surgery. The show must go on. My character, Asian Hawk, is racing to get away from angry natives (I've just stolen a priceless religious artifact from them, so they have good reason to be angry). Over a cliff I go ... landing on top of a huge hot air balloon, safe and sound. I did this stunt by parachuting from a plane. Which didn't make it any safer.
©2004 Katharine Schroeder /Jackie Chan Kids Corner
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