Hong Kong star Jackie Chan races around Asia to brighten a sick child's day or help disaster victims.
by Ron Gluckman
Another long day is nearly over, and Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan is beat. And no wonder: The day before, he made an overnight dash to Beijing, carrying a torch in a run to promote the upcoming World University Games in Guangzhou. Landing in Hong Kong he rushes straight to a series of photo shoots, appearances and dubbing duties for Kung Fu Panda 2. Rubbing his eyes, it's clear he needs a break. But he still has one more appointment, this time with a special opponent.
Dayne Nourse flew in from Salt Lake City in the U.S. to show Chan his moves. He hardly looks like a formidable foe, especially to anyone with Chan's kung fu skills. However, Hong Kong's top hero has a weakness for such adversaries. Nourse, 14, stands waist-high, when he stands. Mostly, he sits in a wheelchair, crippled by brittle bone disease. The Make-A-Wish Foundation flew him to Hong Kong. Meeting idol Jackie Chan is his final wish.
The ultimate pro, Chan responds with a performance that has all eyes misting up at a Chinese dinner he hosts for Nourse and another Make-A-Wish teen, Keisha Knauss, at a west Kowloon restaurant. Chan makes silly faces and flirts with Knauss, then teaches kung fu moves to Nourse. "He's really cool," Nourse gushes afterward. "I knew he was nice from his films, but I had no idea how nice he would be. This has really been a dream come true."
At the banquet filled with friends, Chan bounces from table to table, the perfect host. But he dotes on the teens. Knauss calls him "my boyfriend" to much laughter, but for one special day he really is. Earlier Chan took the teens around his Clearwater Bay film studio, showered them with souvenirs and demonstrated daring stunts. "I know how important this moment is," he confides during a moment away from the youngsters. "If I can help them to live two more days, or two more years, whatever it takes. This is what makes me happy."
Chan, 57, punched his way to fame in scores of cheap sock 'em flicks through the 1970s in Hong Kong before becoming the city's first Hollywood star in the 1990s. Today he's more than an entertainment juggernaut with more than a hundred films, television and cartoon shows, and record albums to his credit. In a city obsessed with commerce, where billionaires are celebrities, this grade school dropout is a Hong Kong icon. In earlier times it was hard to walk a block without seeing his face on a poster or product advertisement. The same now holds true in the rest of China, where he's often on hand opening cinemas, hosting variety shows and making appearances.
Unlike so many pretty boys in the Hong Kong industry, which was the biggest in the world after Hollywood until the 1990s, Chan rose from rags to riches and did it his own way--performing death-defying stunts himself. As a global star with international hits such as Rush Hour, he claimed fees of up to $25 million a picture. More important, he altered the formulaic way Hong Kong made and marketed films. "Jackie Chan helped create the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and subsequently was part of the Hong Kong talent that succeeded in Hollywood and international cinema," says Roger Garcia, executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. "He helped shape how the world today looks at Hong Kong movies."
Some critics term his films trivial, panning Chan's cheesy mix of comedy, action and positive themes. Yet the blend has proven box office appeal; his fans span the globe and defy categorization. In December his Facebook page topped 10 million fans. Even critics concede that he injected life into Asian action films with his martial arts mastery.
Along the way Chan has been transformed from stuntman and fighter to unlikely leading man and role model. However slapstick the script, his films usually have strong moral messages. He often defends underdogs or urchins. Invariably his movies are clean-cut, without sex scenes or graphic violence--call it Kung Fu Disney with Confucian characteristics.
What is less known is how fame has transformed Chan into one of Asia's premier philanthropists. Others may give more or get more attention, but probably nobody works harder for more causes than Chan. "Every time we ask him to do an event, he agrees without any question," says Anthony Lau, director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Chan has been the face of everything from no-smoking campaigns to cleanup efforts. Lau recalls requesting the star's appearance in Japan two years ago. Chan was working in remote China but flew 30 hours straight to the event. "The next day, he made the journey back--another 30 hours." read more...
(taken from forbes.com)