General facts and figures
- Full name: Chan Kong-sang (Changed to Fong Si-lung in the 1990s)
- Net Worth: estimated at $350 million
- Occupation: Martial Arts Expert, movie actor, director, producer, singer, stuntman, philanthropist
- Birthday: April 7, 1954 (age 65)
- Birthplace: Hong Kong, China
- Birth Sign: Aries
- Marital status: Married
- Chan claims that he has broken each and every bone in his body at least once while performing stunts
- Half of his personal fortune will be donated to charities after he dies
- He has operatic vocal training and has recorded over 20 albums
- The nickname Jackie came from a co-worker at a construction site in Canberra, Australia
- He teaches Tourism Management at a Hong Kong University
Jackie Chan is one of the most recognizable martial arts and screwball comedy actors of our time. Thanks to his impressive martial arts acrobatic fighting skills and style, Chan is a huge star not only in Asia but in Hollywood and around the world.
Born as Chang Kong-sang in Hong Kong on April 7th, 1954, he started studying martial arts, acrobatics, acting, and singing since an early age of 7. He trained in various martial arts styles, including Kung Fu, Wushu, and Hapkido.
During his first years in movie making, Chan was seen as the most likely successor of legendary Bruce Lee in Hong Kong, but over time, he managed to create an entirely new acting and martial arts style which set him apart from Lee and from all other actors in the genre and helped him conquer Hollywood and the love of fans all over the world.
He started acting in the 1960s, and today, Jackie Chan is an actor, a martial artist, a producer, and director, a singer as well as his own stuntman. The incredibly innovative and funny Chan has acted in more than 150 movies and has earned his own stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars.
A little known fact is that he has studied opera singing and that he has released numerous albums and songs over the years.
Jackie Chan is also a highly respected philanthropist and was even named one of the 10 most charitable stars in 2004 by Forbes. In 2016 he was declared the second highest-paid actor in the world. His personal wealth is estimated at $350 million, and Chan doesn’t hesitate to donate a large share of his profits for good causes.
Chan Kong-sang was born in Hong Kong, China, in 1954, and studied in the Chinese Opera Research Institute boarding school while his parents moved to Australia to pursue a better life for themselves and for their family as cooks in the American Embassy in Canberra.
His parents, Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, were refugees running away from the Chinese Civil War. They nicknamed their young child Pao-Pao which means cannonball in Chinese, due to the high energy which Chan showed since a very early age.
Up to the age of 17, young Chan studied martial arts, singeing, acrobatics, and was trained in an environment with strict discipline. As one of the best students and performers, he became part of the “Seven Little Fortunes” performance group. He became friends with the other boys of the group and got the opportunity to study Hapkido and earn a black belt under Jin Pal Kim – a grandmaster in this martial art discipline.
Alongside, he trained in other styles, including Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and Jeet Kune Do.
For a while, he moved to Canberra, Australia, to join his parents and attended Dickinson College while working as a construction worker there briefly. It was during this job that Chan earned the nickname Jackie. A colleague took the young man under his wing and called him “Little Jack,” which later was shortened to just “Jackie.”
His first appearance on the big screen was in 1962 when he was still only 8 years old in the Big and Little Wong Tin Bar. He then proceeded to star in a number of other Cantonese musical films.
After graduating in 1971, Chan began working as a movie stuntman and acrobat. In 1972 he worked as a stunt man in Fist of Fury starring Hong Kong’s biggest star then – Bruce Lee. In this movie, Chan was said to have performed the highest fall in the history of Chinese film and gained the recognition of Bruce Lee himself.
Chan’s first big break
After the unexpected death of Bruce Lee in 1973, Chan became the likeliest successor of the Hong Kong cinematic legend. He starred in a number of Kung Fu movies alongside director and producer Lo Wei. Most of them were not as successful as expected, so by the end of the 1970s, their ways parted.
It was at that time when Chan decided to break out of the mold created by Bruce Lee and to create his unique own style and image.
He began performing very impressive acrobatic martial arts scenes and insisted on performing all of his own stunts on camera. Pretty soon, he managed to create a completely unique physical screwball comedic style, which became Jackie Chan’s trademark over the years and which brought him international success and fame.
In 1978, Chan made history by starring in the first Kung-Fu comedy The Drunken Master. It was followed by other successful movies in this genre, such as Fearless Hyena in 1979, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu in 1980, and the Young Master in 1980.
This series of incredibly enjoyable movies made him a star and the highest-paid actor in Hong Kong. He started producing, directing and even singing the theme songs of his movies.
In the 1980s, the actor tried his luck in Hollywood by taking part in the Golden harvest and producing The Big Brawl, but these were flops. Chan got a small role alongside Burt Reynolds in The Cannonball Run in 1980 as well as in the sequel 2 years later.
On creating his own movie empire at home
During the 1980s, the fame and stardom of Jackie Chan continued to grow back in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. The actor starred in Project A in 1983, Police Story in 1985 and Armor of God in 1986, and in Mr. Canton and Lady Rose in 1989.
It was during those years that Chan created his Golden Way production company, as well as his Jackie’s Angels casting agency. He also founded the Jackie Chan Stuntmen Association, which provided both training and medical coverage for the stuntmen.
An interesting fact is that Jackie Chan claims to have broken every single bone in his body while performing stunts.
During those years, Chan took part in the melodramatic Crime Story in 1993, as well as in sequels of the hugely successful Drunken Master and Police Story. It was then when the American audience finally started noticing his rare talents.
He also created the so-called “three brothers” ensemble with two of his friends from operatic school with whom he starred in Project A, Wheels on Meals, and in the Lucky Stars trilogy.
His biggest domestic box office success came with the Armor of God in 1986, where he played the Asian Hawk. The movie grossed more than HK$35 million.
On becoming a true Hollywood Star
When in 1995, Chan created his own Spartan X comic book character, the series became a huge success both in Asia and in the USA. As a result, Quentin Tarantino presented Jackie Chan with a lifetime achievement award at the MTV Awards.
In 1996, Rumble in the Bronx was released as Chan’s 5th dubbed English language movie, and it became his true first hit in the US grossing over $10 million during the first weekend. This success prompted the release of his two older movies Drunken Master II and Crime Story, in US movie theaters.
His next two roles in First Strike and Mr. Nice Guy (1997 and 1998) were not as successful, but he scored another box office hit in 1998 when Rush Hour was released. This American produced movie starred Chan alongside Chris Tucker. Chan went on to star in the Old West alongside Own Wilson and Lucy Liu in 2000.
When Chan got back together with Tucker in 2001 for the Rush Hour 2 sequel, he earned $15 million along with a percentage of the record-breaking box office gross profit.
In 2002, Jackie Chan took part in The Tuxedo, and in the same year, he received his star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as got honored as the best action movie star at the World Stunt Awards.
The Medallion(2003), and Around the World in 80 Days(2004), were not as successful. Still, in 2004, Jackie Chan was named the most recognized star in the world by film scholar Andrew Willis.
In 2003, Jackie Chan started his JCE Movies Limited film production company in an attempt to increase control over the filmmaking process as well as the range of available roles for his talents.
He filmed the dramatic and successful New Police Story in 2004, The Myth in 2005 and Rob-B-Hood in 2006.
In 2007, Chan starred in the third installment of the Rush Hour series, which grossed $255 million in the USA, but only HK$3.5 million back at home in Hong Kong.
In 2008, the martial arts master voiced the Master Monkey in the hugely successful Kung Fu Panda animated feature film. This film later spawned into a lot of sequels, a TV series, and a video game.
Chan also took part in the Forbidden Kingdom alongside Jet Li in the same year, and then went ahead to take part in family-friendly The Spy Next Door and The Karate Kid remake in 2010 in his first US dramatic role.
In the meantime, the now world-famous actor still thrived in the realm of Chinese cinema as well. He starred in Shinjuku Incident in 2009 and then wrote and acted in Little Big Soldier in 2010. In 2011 he co-directed and starred in the historical drama movie 1911, which was the actor’s 100th film!
In 2012 at the Cannes Film Festival, Jackie Chan announced that he will be retiring from performing so many stunts in his movies and taking better care of his body. In the same year, Chan jumped right back into action with CZ12, and in the next year, he starred in Police Story 2013.
Dragon Blade, released in 2015, was a 3D historical action movie that enjoyed amazing box office success. In 2016, this success was followed up by Skiptrace with Johnny Knoxville, Railroad Tigers, and in the Anglo-Chinese action thriller The Foreigner.
In 2017, the star took part in a Chinese-Indian movie titles Kung Fu Yoga, directed by his old friend Stanley Tong. Chan also stars in Bleeding Steel, and his latest movie in the making Project X-Traction is expected to be released in 2019.
As a whole, Jackie Chan’s movies have been hugely successful and have grossed:
- $147 million in Hong Kong up until 2010
- $72 million in South Korea from 1991-2010
- $607 million in Japan up to 2012
- $2.44 billion in the US and Canada up to 2018
- $1.3 billion in China
- $20 million in France
- $27.3 million in Germany, Italy and Spain
- Over $5 billion worldwide up to 2018
Jackie Chan married Taiwanese actress Joan Lin in 1982, and their son Jaycee Chan was born the same year. Jaycee Chan is now an actor and singer himself.
In January 1999, Chan had an illegitimate daughter named Etta Ng Chok Lam born after an extramarital affair with former Miss Asia Elaine Ng Yi-Lei.
The news of his affair led to a huge scandal, and later on, Elaine moved to Shanghai, claiming that she hadn’t received money by Chan and would take care of her daughter alone.
Jackie Chan is proficient in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and in sign language, and also speaks some Japanese, Korean, German, Thai and Spanish languages.
He is an avid soccer fan and supports the National football team of Hong Kong, as well as the National football team of England and Manchester United.
He has claimed to be a big fan of the comic acting duo Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, whom he quotes as inspiring him the most for his acting and his movies.
Jackie Chan’s other careers
Singing and music
While studying at the Peking Opera School, Chan received operatic vocal lessons. In the 1980s, he started producing music records, and became a successful singer in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.
Since 1984, Chan has released 20 albums and has performed in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, Japanese, and Taiwanese.
He often performs the theme songs in his films, especially the ones which play during the closing credits. The first time he did that was for the film The Young Master in 1980 when he sang the song Kung Fu Fighting Man.
His song sung for Police Story titled Story of a hero was selected by the Royal Hong Kong Police as their official recruitment advertisement song in 1994.
He also voiced Shang in Disney’s Mulan in China, where he performed one of the songs for the soundtrack of the Chinese release of the animated movie.
In 2007, Jackie Chan sang “We are ready,” which was the official countdown song for the Summer Olympics in 2008. He released two official albums for the Olympics in Beijing, which included numerous guest appearances by local stars.
Academia and teaching
Jackie Chan received an honorary Doctor of Social Science degree from the Hong Kong Baptist University in 2019 and another doctorate from the University of Cambodia, as well as honorary professorship from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong.
He is a member of the faculty of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management, where he teaches Tourism management to students.
Chan is also the Dean at the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy at the Wuhan Institute of Design and Sciences.
Jackie Chan was named one of 10 biggest philanthropists among movie stars by Forbes magazine. He donates large shares of his personal wealth for different causes, including animal welfare, conservation, and disaster relief. He has claimed that half of his wealth will be donated to charities upon his death.
Since 2004, Chan has served as Goodwill Ambassador at UNICEF and in 2015, was named the first anti-drug ambassador of Singapore.
The actor often claims that his only regret is not being able to get a proper education, which is why Jackie Chan has decided to provide this opportunity for others by setting up the Jackie Chan Science Center at the Australian National University, as well as schools in various poor regions throughout China.
Awards and legacies
Over the years, Jackie Chan has received worldwide recognition for his acting, martial arts skill and stunt work. He has won awards and has become the inspiration for numerous comics, video game, and TV characters, as well as for different projects around the world. Here are some of the awards which he has received as well as the projects he has inspired:
- Lifetime achievement award from the Taurus World Stunt Awards
- Innovator Awards from the American Choreography Awards
- Knight Commander of the Malaysian Order of the Territorial Crown
- A star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- A star at the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars, and hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater
- The inspiration for the Dragon Ball manga character Jackie Chun
- The Lei Wulong character in Tekken
- The Hitmonchan Pokemon
- He personally customized a limited edition of Mitsubishi Evolution cars
- The Spartan X, Spartan X 2 arcade video games
- Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, Stuntmaster, Adventures, and J-Mat fitness games
- Jackie Chan The Kung Fu Master game
- He was the primary reason for the creation of the Rotten Tomatoes website created by his huge fan Senh Duong
- There is a statue of Chan in Shanghai, where the construction of a Jackie Chan museum is currently ongoing