Jackie Chan’s spectacular new adventure takes him all the way from the chateau and vineyards of France and the hidden dangers of a jungle on a South Seas island to the terrors of a fight in free-fall above an active volcano. The story is sprung on a quest to track down six bronze sculptures, originally part of a set of twelve representing the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Jackie plays a soldier of fortune, not a high minded patriot. He’s in it for the money. But as events take unexpected turns and strange alliances take shape, motives begin to change.
Why did you want to go back to directing?
Jackie Chan: When I direct my own film I write my own script I like to hear from the audience that they liked it. I never stopped directing all the movies that I’ve made I was a half director. I always contributed to the script. When you’re an action director you have to become one with the director, changing the fighting sequences or I just don’t like this or that, that’s too expensive, I don’t like the color, can I wear different clothes. When I direct myself I can do whatever I like to do like in a scene I wouldn’t have a bunch of people beat up on one person, that’s a coward. I want to show a fair game and tell kids that the other way is wrong, it’s respect. In some films you’ll see people fighting then suddenly he’s down and they still keep on beating him and I’m like why? Sugar Ray Leonard is my all time hero because he has honor in his fighting. The bad guy in this film he respected me and I respected him. So I like making my own movie because I can do whatever I want to do. Besides entertain I also want to educate, as a producer and a director we do have a responsibility to society. When I was younger I didn’t know. In Drunken Master I was drinking then fighting, then drinking and fighting. Then as I got older I saw the film again and I thought it had the wrong message so I made Drunken Master 2, don’t drink, don’t fight. I corrected myself and I was happy.
You have such an international cast how did you get these actors?
Jackie Chan: It was by coincidence. The story happens in Paris so it calls for a difference in backgrounds. When I casts the pirates I said I wanted Japanese, Thai, everyone. I want to show the whole world that there are bad people everywhere. In Rumble in the Bronx, it was the same thing, they wanted to cast black people as the bad guy and I said no I want Chinese, Filipino, French. The first person I beat in that film is Chinese. So when I make a movie there are good people and bad people everywhere.
You said this was your last film.
Jackie Chan: That was a wrong message, as you know I’m not young anymore, in seven more months I’ll be sixty. I did this to prove to the audience that I can still fight since journalist kept saying I’m doing less and less stunts. I was secretly writing this script when I was doing Rush Hour 3, I was writing a script for six years because I wanted to prove that I still can do a big action movie. But doing this film was really, really, painful, it wasn’t like it used to be. I still want to do it but the body is telling me to stop. After I had an accident and my back was hurt I sat down and thought how much longer can I keep doing this? I have no reason to stop doing action films, sometimes I think I should break my ankle again to stop me from doing action films. So I thought when should I stop, I don’t want to sit in a wheel chair all my life. So when I finished the movie I was really tired and at Cannes I announced that it was my last big action movie. I should have said that’s my last BIG action movie. I’ll still do kicking and punching and rolling over the table, the easy stuff but jumping over the building, over the car, on a motorcycle, no! I might start to use a double, the audience already knows I can do it. In Hollywood it’s difficult to find a good script for myself. The last couple of days I had meetings and they had ideas but it was me and Chris Tucker or me and Owen Wilson. Then I go to the studio and then again they want to see me and Chris Tucker together. I’m like can I do something like Kramer Vs. Kramer, I don’t know slow motion on the beach singing a song. Here in Hollywood they just want to see me do just action. I can always go back to China and do whatever I want to do. I was glad that Will Smith picked me to be in Karate Kid, there was no action.
Will we see you do more drama or an independent film in the future?
Jackie Chan: Yes! I want to do Avatar stuff or projects that deal a little more with CGI. I just don’t have that talent because I don’t know special effects. I don’t know much about it because I’ve always done it the traditional way using film. I’m 60 I haven’t had time to learn computer graphics.
So you’re still shooting with film?
Jackie Chan: Yes. Especially when you’re shooting an action sequence I use three to four cameras on set and you have to go for it and get it right. In one scene we used fifteen cameras with 600 people on set. So you have to get it right because it’s really expensive. I know the future is all digital because that’s the reality.
This film deals with treasure, what is your treasure?
Jackie Chan: I hope that 50 to 100 years from now people look at these films and say wow that’s a Jackie Chan film, that people will collect them. I just want one day for people to remember me that’s all! I want to make people laugh and make the world better through my films.
Chinese Zodiac is in theaters October 18th