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Jackie Chan works to bring recognition to stunt performers

2018-06-08 11:29:38        China Daily

Jackie Chan has been a world-renowned kung fu giant for around four decades. But the 64-year-old still remembers his difficult early days.

At a news conference in Beijing on June 1, the martial arts star of more than 200 action films recalled his days as a stand-in in the early 1970s.

"I did most of the death-defying stunts then, and the star just needed to turn his head to have his face recognized. No one knows what I did," he says.

From his heyday in Hong Kong's martial arts movies to his foray into Hollywood, Chan has seen a lot of the pain and sacrifice made by stunt performers, a community that frequently sees its members get injured, or even become disabled.

"They are nameless heroes," Chan says.

"Nowadays, I have some influence, which I wish to use to do something for stunt performers. They deserve the same recognition as actors in serious movies," says Chan.

This is what's behind Chan's move to create the Annual International Jackie Chan Action Movie Week, which was launched in 2015.

In a change from the previous three editions, which were held in Shanghai during the city's top international film festival, the upcoming fourth event will be held in Datong, Shanxi province, from July 18 to 22.

Speaking about the event, Chan says he is delighted to see it is gaining recognition in and outside China.

"The Academy Awards is 90 years old. The Hong Kong Film Award has been held for 37 years ... I hope my awards (for stunt performers) can still exist after I pass away."

At the Friday briefing jointly organized by the China Movie Channel, the Datong government and Chan's firm, JC International, Chan introduced four members of his famous Jackie Chan Stunt Team, the group behind most of Chan's mind-blowing acrobatics on the big screen, founded in 1976.

One of the members is Paul Andreovski from Australia.

The stuntman began to learn martial arts when he was 8, and over the years has expanded his scope to more sports, including gymnastics, judo, boxing, Olympic wrestling and tae kwon do.

When Chan was making the gangster comedy Mr Nice Guy in Melbourne in 1996, Andreovski attended an audition. And that launched his decadeslong career as a stunt performer.

"A stuntman's job is very dangerous and many injuries occur - even death on many occasions. I've never met a stuntman who hasn't had a close call or a hospital visit," says Andreovski.

Andreovski says Chan's efforts will raise public awareness about what stunt performers strive and bleed for.

"Jackie Chan is loved and appreciated all over the world for all the films he has done, but also for all the risks he has taken. It would be wrong to acknowledge him only as an action actor. He is so much more," says Andreovski.

Over the past two decades, the stunt community in Hollywood has strived to push the Academy Awards to set up a prize category to recognize their work, but without success.

But Andreovski is optimistic, saying: "I hope purely on principle that the stuntman is acknowledged eventually as much as all the other departments in the film industry, such as actors, directors and wardrobe, and are rewarded accordingly."

Separately, the organizers of the Datong event say that some of Chan's classic movies will be screened during the program.

Chan will also join hands with around 10 top Chinese stars, including Wu Jing, Li Bingbing, Chen Kun, Zhou Xun, Yao Chen, Huang Xiaoming and Jing Tian, to launch a charity project on poverty alleviation.

And as part of the project they will visit a town or village in poverty to use their star power and knowledge to publicize local products and convert footage from their visits into a TV serial.

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