1. Sports
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Biography and Profile of Jackie Chan


Jackie Chan Attends Premiere of
George De Sota/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Date of Birth:

The biography of Jackie Chan starts with his birth on April 7, 1954 in Hong Kong to Charles and Lee-lee Chan.

The Early Life of Jackie Chan:

Jackie Chan was born Chan Kong-sang, which literally means “Born in Hong Kong” Chan. His mother nicknamed him Pao Pao (Chinese= cannonball) due to the way he would roll around as an infant.

Chan’s parents worked for the French ambassador to Hong Kong and were poor. They gave him a chance at a better life by enrolling him in the Chinese Opera Research Institute at the age of seven, where he spent a decade training for the Peking Opera. He learned martial arts and acrobatics with an entertainment focus while there.

Early Acting Career:

Chan joined the Seven Little Fortunes, a performance group of his school's best students, where he was given the stage name Yuen Lo. He also became friends with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao in the group, a trio that would become collectively known in Hong Kong as "Three Brothers" or "Three Dragons".

Eventually, Chan appeared in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar with others from the Seven Little Fortunes. He subsequently went on to appear in several more films as a child.

Early Acting Failures and Breakthrough:

At the age of 17, Chan served as a stuntman in two Bruce Lee films: Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Then he got his first adult starring role in Little Tiger of Canton.

In 1976, a film producer named Willie Chan in Hong Kong offered him a role in his film, Lo Wei which got the ball rolling toward his 1978 appearance in the film, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow. This was where Chan began to establish himself as a comedic kung fu actor. Eventually, he got his major break in the classic, Drunken Master.

Cinematic Breakthrough in America:

In 1995, Rumble in the Bronx starring Jackie Chan was released in the United States. Chan played an American visitor forced to protect his uncle’s market from a motorcycle gang. His performance in the movie, particularly from an action and martial arts standpoint, began to gain him a cult following in the country. Eventually in 1998, he starred with Chris Tucker in the hit movie Rush Hour, a comedic action piece that cemented his Hollywood fame in a large way.

The Martial Arts Background of Jackie Chan:

Much of Chan's martial arts skills came from practicing the arts while at the Chinese Opera Research Institute, headed by Master Yu Jim Yuen. However, he did eventually train specifically in Hapkido, earning his blackbelt under Grandmaster Jin Pal Kim. All told, Chan has trained in Shaolin Kung-fu, Tae Kwon Do, and Hapkido.

"He took his Hapkido seriously, practicing for hours at a time," said Kim according to article at Web-vue.com. In fact, Kim noted that Chan was one of the hardest working people he'd ever been around.

The Name Change to Jackie Chan:

Amidst some difficulty finding stunt work and following some of his early commercial failures in the acting realm, Chan joined his parents in Canberra in 1976. While there he briefly enrolled at Dickson College and worked in construction. A construction friend named Jack took Chan under his wing, eventually earning him the nickname "Little Jack". This was eventually shortened to "Jackie". Thus, the name Jackie Chan was born.

Chan also changed his Chinese name to Fong Si Lung, in honor of his father's original surname of Fong.

Jackie Chan the Stunt Man and Singer:

Chan is known as one of the greatest stuntmen of all-time. The sheer danger of the moves he employs are evidenced by the amount of injuries he has incurred. Chan broke his skull on the set of Armour of God, and has broken the majority of fingers in his hand. Further, he has also broken his nose, both cheekbones, jaw, hips, sternum, neck, toes, and ankle.

He holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Stunts By A Living Actor”

Chan is also a successful singer in Hong Kong and Asia with numerous albums to his credit.

Personal Life:

In 1982, Jackie Chan married the popular Taiwanese actress Lin Feng-Jiao (aka Joan Lin). The two had a son that same year named Jaycee Chan, who is a singer and actor himself. It has also been alleged that Chan has a daughter with former Asia Pageant winner Elaine Ng Yi-Lei by the name of Etta Ng Chok Lam. This has not been confirmed to date.

Popular Jackie Chan Movies:

  • Legend of Drunken Master: When Chan stepped into the role of popular folk hero Wong Fei Hung in the Legend of Drunken Master several years after starring in the original Drunken Master, the challenge was to recreate the exciting and comedic character he had once played. Chan did such a good job of it, in fact, that many believe this was his greatest film.Compare Prices
  • First Strike: When the CIA calls on Jackie Chan to take on the Russian Mafia, you know you're in for some great action sequences.Compare Prices
  • Miracles: Chan plays a 1930's gangster in this one. Thus, viewers got to see him in a different kind of role. Of course, there was still a lot of fighting. Compare Prices
  • Rumble in the Bronx: This was the film that really introduced Chan to the American public.Compare Prices
  • Rush Hour: Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan were simply hilarious in this serious cop - humorous cop tandem.Compare Prices
Related Video
  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. Martial Arts
  4. Martial Arts Culture
  5. Jackie Chan - Biography and Profile

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.