There are several strong cases to be made as to who the greatest action movie star of all time is, but there’s no denying that the frontrunner to that title is Jackie Chan.
There was just something about his fighting and action scenes that thrilled many moviegoers to no end while also somehow managing to elicit at least one genuine hearty chuckle mid-scuffle. Combine his unparalleled stuntwork with his everyman persona and a philanthropist streak that has helped millions of underprivileged children, what you get is a beloved action star who has endeared himself to me and millions around the world.
Which is why after many years of enjoying his work and seeing people fawn all over him for his recent 65th birthday, it pains me to throw a milkshake all over this martial arts duck: Jackie Chan may be the greatest action hero ever onscreen but he’s an awful human being off-screen.
For all the moral upstanding stances his movie characters hold, Jackie’s real-life views and actions leave much to be desired.
While he’s been married since 1982 and has a son, Jackie has a reputation in Asia as being something of a tail-chasing movie star who is seen with more than a few young women over the years. Now while all this might be nothing but rumours by Chinese tabloids, no amount of covering up can hide the extra-marital affair he had in 1999 with former Miss Asia Elaine Ng, which resulted in an illegitimate daughter, Etta.
Jackie ultimately confessed to the affair before defending himself by saying he “committed a fault that many men in the world commit.”
Not sure if that’s the best explanation to dish out if you’re someone who cheated on their wife, especially if you’ve (allegedly) done it on multiple occasions with many different women.
Okay, so Jackie is pretty dodgy when it comes to keeping it in his pants, but surely that’s it right? Sorry to burst your bubble but it gets even worse there.
In a recent 2015 memoir, Jackie admitted that he was a “nasty jerk” when he became a superstar and did things like acting high and mighty wherever he went. He even revealed that he drunk drove a heap of times and totaled his share of cars in the process. When photographers tried to take photos of his wreckages, he threatened to beat them all up if they did it. It all seems bit ironic when he was named China’s anti-drug ambassador in 2009 so make of that what you will.
But perhaps the most gutwrenching revelation about his personal life is how awful of a parent he is. Not only did he confess to hitting his son and being an all-around bad parent, he has not acknowledged the existence of his illegitimate daughter after all these years.
But look, what Jackie does in his personal life is his own thing and who are we to judge. His public views on politics though? Hoo boy, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box.
He’s a big defender of the Chinese Communist Party and often acts as its propaganda mouthpiece in criticising anyone who is anti-China. Not only are his statements quite inflammatory (making him something of a joke in the Chinese media), the logic of his comments amount to nothing more than “I’m famous so f**k you”. When you think about it, all this cuts a little close to the wannabe Combover Caligula currently sitting in the White House.
Perhaps most disturbingly, Jackie is a big supporter on suppressing people’s freedom and democratic processes, saying very Orwellian things like, “Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want.” In short, the guy isn’t a supporter of China and its people but rather the oppressive single-party regime that’s in power and doing all it can to crush any critics.
Like I said, Pandora’s Box.
Getting a milkshake thrown on the supposed squeaky clean image of everyone’s favourite action star isn’t a good feeling, but it is more necessary than ever given the increasing importance on holding people accountable for their actions and words, especially those with a public profile.
So next time you watch a Jackie Chan film, just know that while he may be able to take on six baddies with a step ladder, he is also an awful human being who has cheated on his wife, beat his kid, ignored his other (illegitimate) kid, and is a Communist and fascist in all but name.