Jackie Chan is in his 60s now. His stunts aren’t as insane as they once were, but he’s back on American screens with a killer new revenge flick called The Foreigner (Jackie vs. evil James Bond!).
Jackie Chan, who turned 63 this year, holds the Guinness World Record for the most credits on a single movie. (Fifteen jobs, on a movie called CZ12, or Chinese Zodiac, from 2012, starring Jackie Chan, directed by Jackie Chan, gaffed by Jackie Chan, with catering coordinated by Jackie Chan.) But in his new movie, The Foreigner, he’s mostly just an actor giving a performance, a surprisingly subtle and nuanced one, as a grief-stricken London restaurateur seeking revenge on a rogue IRA faction after their bomb kills his daughter. Not counting two Kung Fu Panda sequels, The Nut Job 2, and The Lego Ninjago Movie—in which he voices, respectively, a monkey, a surly mouse, and a wise old piece of Lego—The Foreigner will be his first high-profile U.S. release since 2010, when he played Jaden Smith’s mentor in a reboot of The Karate Kid, noteworthy for being a movie with “karate” in the title in which the only martial art practiced is kung fu.
He hasn’t been idle this decade. Idle is not one of the speeds in Jackie Chan’s gearbox. “Sometimes I look at some other actors, famous actors,” he says incredulously. “They’re so comfortable! After filming, just holiday! With a girlfriend or the family.” After filming, Jackie tends to an ever-expanding portfolio of business interests, and then he makes more films. In the time since The Foreigner wrapped, he’s already completed a science-fiction thing called Bleeding Steel, which features the first fight scene ever shot on the roof of the Sydney Opera House. But The Foreigner is a different kind of Jackie Chan movie, and a lot of people are excited about it. So today Jackie’s driven 30 miles from Beijing to the Panlong Valley to visit his International Stunt Training Base and talk to some foreign visitors about the movie.
His International Stunt Training Base is one building in a giant Tony Stark–ass complex of several, all of which Jackie also owns. His personal logo—JACKIE intertwined with the Chinese character for “dragon”—is on its massive perforated-aluminum facade. Jackie can walk out the front door and stand at the top of the staircase leading to the limestone plaza below, look out at the green hills in the distance, and know for certain that he owns every man-made thing he can see between here and the green hills, including the chapel and the Spanish-style housing development just barely visible over the next rise.
Here, he’ll show you around.
Here is an equestrian statue of Jackie Chan, made from what looks at first glance like ordinary rusty metal but turns out to be old camera equipment used on Jackie’s films. Look, this klieg light, which illuminated the sets of Jackie Chan movies like Project A (1983) and Police Story (1985)? Now it’s part of the horse body. It’s a haunch.
Here is this legitimately fucking incredible painting, in the trompe l’oeil style, of Jackie Chan doing kung fu on a narrow rock outcropping on the edge of a dizzyingly deep canyon, and if you stand on this one precise spot on the floor and someone takes your picture, it looks, in the picture, like you too are on the actual edge of the canyon doing kung fu, or whatever you’re doing.
Here is a glass atrium with a hexagonal glass booth inside, and in the booth there is a 60-million-year-old tree, pulled out of the ocean off Shanghai not long ago and given to Jackie as a gift. Or maybe it’s a 65,000-year-old tree. Honestly, Jackie is a little hard to pin down on the precise age of the tree. But it is almost definitely thousands and thousands of years old, this tree.
The glass inside the prism is moist, and the tree behind the glass is moist and seems almost to be breathing, like it is the ambassador from a planet ruled by sentient driftwood, placed within a warming prism for optimum comfort during its diplomatic visit. If you visit Jackie, he will look at the tree with you. If you ask who gave it to him, he’ll say he doesn’t remember, that people give him “so many presents.”
It seems like it should be hard to forget who gave you a thousand(s)-year-old tree, but nothing is impossible if you are Jackie Chan.
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