Whoever had Jackie Chan in their office “Which Martial Arts film star, Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, is going to get a musical first?” pool just got a little closer to winning. On a related note, what kind of crazy ass office betting pools are you people involved in?
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Jackie Chan revealed during a press conference at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York that he was working on a stage musical adaptation of his autobiography I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action. He was quoted as saying, “We are looking for a director of the musical right now. It’s all very exciting.” If in your first attempt to imagine a musical about Jackie Chan you struggle to get past an image of a bunch of ninjas fighting while the Carl Douglas classic “Kung Fu Fighting” plays in the background then clearly you just don’t deserve the sweet, gentle soul that is Jackie Chan. I guess.
So, what is this thing going to be about other than, you know, Jackie Chan? Also from THR:
At the press conference, Chan said the musical will be told through his voice as narrator of his life, focusing on his early youth, his time spent performing acrobatics with the children’s performance group the Seven Little Fortunes and his quest to step out from behind the shadow of the iconic Bruce Lee.
It seems appropriate that Bruce Lee would have come up. In 2008, it was announced through Playbill that Barlett Sher was to direct Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, a musical about Bruce Lee with songs/lyrics by David Yazbeck and a book by Henry Hwang. The show was described as being about Lee’s road to success “as figures from Chinese mythology follow his quest and The Monkey King, a beloved warrior god, becomes his heavenly ally.” However, even with Tony-nominated talent like Sher and Yazbeck and Tony winner Hwang on board the show never made its announced target release window of 2010/2011. A Google search for the latest information indicated the musical might still be alive but at the casting stage, and quite a few actors list Bruce Lee: Journey to the West workshop on their publicly listed resume (meaning they worked on the musical even though it hasn’t gone to stage).
So, based upon that example it seems a pretty safe bet that this Jackie Chan musical may, in fact, never happen. However, it is something he is trying to do, and the reason we are reporting it is because it seemed so gosh darn crazy and random that we had to pay forward the crazy.
In THR article, they indicate that Chan has previously mentioned having loved The Sound of Music as a kid. Not to put anyone in a box and say they can only ever be that one thing we know them as, but an obvious reaction to that factoid is to think of this:
And then imagine Julie Andrews being cut-off mid-song by the sounds of kung fu fighting:
Chan is most known for the Rush Hour trilogy, which began in 1998, as well as his Shanghai films with Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights). However, that represented his big break in Hollywood after nearly two full decades of work in martial arts films in Hong Kong and elsewhere. He began his career in film as a stuntman before starring in New Fists of Fury in 1976, at which point he was but one of many being presented as the next Bruce Lee. Throughout his career, he has been noted for performing his own stunts, meaning the blooper reels which run over the closing credits of most his films are now notorious for their glimpses of real life injuries. Most recently, he starred in 1911 in 2011, and received stellar reviews for his work in the new Karate Kid film in 2010.
Considering the extensive choreography called for in the martial arts scenes in his 100 credited film roles, it is not surprising that Chan would have an affinity for other realms of entertainment featuring choreographed dancing such as musical theater. And his is a “little guy done good” story. If this thing ever actually happens can they somehow make a song out of the famous “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” scene from Rush Hour? Have a Chris Tucker stand-in shouting the dialogue at him as the Broadway performer playing Chan takes dramatic asides to address the audience and vocalize what Chan was thinking at that point, reflecting upon his career….holy crap! You use that moment – the moment of his arrival – as the entire framing device of he show. This thing writes itself.
Here’s somebody’s collection of funny scenes from the first Rush Hour, including the scene I just wrote about:
What do you think? Is this the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of in your life? Or only among the greatest things you’ve ever heard of in your life? Those are your only options. If you disagree with my strict limitation upon your freedom of expression then take the comments and sing your heart out! No, seriously, comment…if you’d like.