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Jackie Chan, Drunk and Singing


Haters get away

It’s not a big story or anything, but it does raise a few questions: Monday night in Hong Kong, Jackie Chan came onstage during a Jonathan Lee concert and exchanged insults with the audience. Jonathan Lee is a Taiwanese singer-songwriter whose main gift to the world, from what I can tell, is the Supercop soundtrack; iTunes samples of his work reveal a sort of ponderous middlebrow take on Casio-strings Cantopop, all slow weepy ballads, though for all I know he has a rich recording history and it’s not his fault that Google isn’t really giving me much on him. Anyway, here’s what CBS has on the Jackie Chan story:

Chan suddenly jumped on the stage Monday night and demanded a duet with Lee. He then tried to conduct the band and stopped and restarted the music several times, as the newspaper reported. As the awkward interruption dragged on, audience members started to heckle Chan, who replied with an insult.

Chan was drunk, of course, and that makes the whole story even harder to envision, even if two of his best movies are Drunken Master and Drunken Master 2. Chan has made his career playing such benign, likable characters that it’s virtually impossible to imagine him getting fucked up and acting like an asshole in public, though this is certainly low-level hell-raising by American celebrity standards. Also: who the fuck heckles Jackie Chan? He doesn’t look like that much of a badass, and his performances’ appeal rests as much in physical comedy as it does in martial arts, but you’d have to imagine that he still wouldn’t have much trouble handling a group of angry Jonathan Lee fans. A drunk, angry Jackie Chan would probably be more volatile and dangerous than, say, DMX, and I’ve never heard of anyone being dumb enough to heckle DMX.

At first glance, though, the weirdest thing about the story is that Chan wanted to sing with Lee; the image of Jackie Chan breaking into song is too much. But it says in the CBS article that Chan was an “invited performing guest” at the show, and Chan’s Wikipedia entry reveals that he’s long pulled double duty in Hong Kong as both movie star and pop star, something I can’t believe I didn’t know. (Wikipedia also reveals that Chan turned down the Wesley Snipes part in Demolition Man, and the what-ifs there are mind-boggling. Jackie Chan could’ve been Blade!) Hong Kong has a long history of turning its pop stars into actors, and the results have been a whole lot better than America’s history of turning rappers into actors; I can’t think of any rappers as good in their film roles as Faye Wong in Chunking Express or Anita Mui in The Heroic Trio. But Jackie Chan? An iTunes music store search reveals that Chan has a number of albums out, including a greatest-hits collection that includes monster jams like “A Vigorous Aspiration in My Mind” and “A Man Should Be of Self-Help.” It’s standard Cantopop stuff: vaguely militaristic uptempo synth-bangers and cheesed-out moony ballads. It’s pretty obvious, even with all the studio effects on his voice, that Chan can’t really sing. But I love the idea that Hong Kong turns all of its stars into singers just because everyone already likes them. That’s efficiency! Jet Li, unfortunately, does not appear to have followed suit.

Voice review: Jessica Winter on Shanghai Noon
Voice review: Ed Park on Shanghai Knights

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