Jackie Chan

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Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE[1] (born Chan Kong Sang, ???, on 7 April 1954) is an actor, action choreographer, film director, producer, martial artist, comedian, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer from Hong Kong.

Chan is one of the best-known names worldwide in the areas of kung fu and action films. In his films, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons and innovative stunts. Jackie Chan has been acting since the 1970s and has appeared in over 100 films. Chan has received stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a cultural icon, Chan has been referenced in various pop songs, cartoons and video games. Besides acting, Chan is a Cantopop and Mandopop star, having released a number of albums and sung many of the theme songs for the films in which he has starred. In 2008, Chan sang at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.[2]

Chan was born in 1954 in Victoria Peak, Hong Kong (then a British Overseas Territory), as Chan Kong Sang (meaning “born in [Hong] Kong”) to Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, refugees from the Chinese Civil War. He was nicknamed Pao Pao (Chinese: ??, literally meaning “Cannonball”) because he was always rolling around as an infant.[3] Since his parents worked for the French Consul to Hong Kong, Chan spent his formative years within the grounds of the consul’s residence in the Victoria Peak district.[4]

Chan attended the Nah-Hwa Primary School on Hong Kong Island, where he failed his first year, after which his parents withdrew him from the school. In 1960, his father emigrated to Canberra, Australia, to work as head cook for the American embassy, and Chan was sent to the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School run by Master Yu Jim Yuen.[4][5]

Chan trained rigorously for the next decade, excelling in martial arts and acrobatics.[6] He eventually joined the Seven Little Fortunes, a performance group made up of the school’s best students, gaining the stage name Yuen Lo in homage to his master. Chan became close friends with fellow group members Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the three of them later to be known as the Three Brothers or Three Dragons.[7]

At the age of 8, he appeared with some of his fellow “Little Fortunes”, in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962), with Li Li Hua playing his mother. Chan appeared with Li again the following year, in The Love Eterne (1963) and had a small role in King Hu’s 1966 film, Come Drink with Me. In 1971, after an appearance as an extra in another King Hu film, A Touch of Zen, Chan began his adult career in the film industry, initially signing to Chu Mu’s Great Earth Film Company.[8] At the age of 17, he worked as a stuntman in the Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon under the stage name Chen Yuen Long.[9] He received his first starring role later that year, in Little Tiger of Canton, which had a limited release in Hong Kong in 1973.[10]

After the commercial failures in his early ventures into films and trouble finding stunt work, Chan joined his parents in Canberra in 1976, where he briefly attended Dickson College and worked as a construction worker.[11] A fellow builder named Jack took Chan under his wing, earning Chan the nickname of “Little Jack” which was later shortened to “Jackie” and the name Jackie Chan stuck with him ever since.[12] In addition, Chan changed his Chinese name to Fong Si Lung, since his father’s original surname was Fong.[12]