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6 Best And 6 Worst Jackie Chan Movies

The action comedy genre is a competitive landscape, but there is one man who reigns supreme among the combat jesters of the entertainment world. That man, of course, is Jackie Chan. The Hong Kong native birthed the comedic martial arts genre and is now one of the highest-paid actors in the world. (He is estimated to be worth around $400 million.) The notoriety comes as no surprise, considering that Chan has appeared in nearly 150 films across half a century and performs most of his stunts himself. His appeal hasn't waned much over the years, due to a healthy combo of action prowess and comedic talent. Not only can he fight off hordes of ninjas with a broomstick, but he can do it while making us giggle with delight.

Despite sporting an epic cinematic resume, Jackie Chan does have a few duds on his record. But even when the final product is a few kicks short of a hit, Jackie is still endlessly lovable. The failures rarely seem to phase the kung fu expert — he merely surges on to the next project. It has been exciting to ride shotgun with the star through all the ups and downs. What better way to pay our respects to the movie legend than by revisiting his high points, while also acknowledging the major misses? Seems only fitting because, as anyone who has seen a Jackie Chan fight sequence knows, he isn't immune to taking a few hits. 

Best: Rush Hour is hilarious and fun

There are few who would argue as to the mass appeal Jackie reached with Rush Hour. His notoriety had already begun to spread into the Western Hemisphere, but it was this hilarious buddy cop hit which catapulted Jackie into the upper levels of fame. He plays a Hong Kong detective brought over to the Los Angeles area to help track down an old nemesis. In an attempt to get him out of their hair, the local police force pairs him up with Detective Carter (Chris Tucker), who recently botched an operation and was due for some form of punishment.

There are so many delightful elements that make this buddy cop movie work. While the plot may be a bit simplistic, its straightforward formula allows the stars to shine bright. Jackie is in top form, at this point a veteran of the cinematic process who is still young enough to tumble through obstacles and sail through the air to deliver flying kicks to villainous throats. The juxtaposition of Jackie's regimented detective speaking in rigid English with Tucker's lanky fountain of jokester diatribes makes it clear why Rush Hour was such a hit. When Jackie isn't dazzling us with acrobatic kung fu maneuvers, we're giggling at the chemistry between him and Tucker. Rush Hour is one of Chan's best, and it reminds us why we love movies.

Worst: The Medallion fails to utilize its star

The Medallion fell victim to the same monster that many early 2000s films did — it was wooed by the overwhelming allure of new-age CGI. Filmmakers failed to recognize who they had on board for this film. They had Jackie Chan: the king of fight choreography and stunt work. Instead, they opted to replace all his combat experience with cheesy, computer-animated superpowers. The source of those superpowers stems from a pretty lazy script as well.

Adding insult to injury is the usually affable Jackie Chan. We're thinking that he felt underutilized because his normally cheerful disposition was muted. The film struggles to find an identity most of the way through, stumbling over awkward attempts at humor, missing entirely on moments of sincerity, and failing to utilize its action star. Even in some Jackie Chan films that aren't so great, we still smile and enjoy watching his childlike joy — he genuinely appears to love what he does. In The Medallion, however, all we get is a big, choppy CGI backflip followed by a faceplant into the dirt.

Best: Rumble in the Bronx is top-notch Jackie Chan

It was around the time this film came out that insurance companies were getting nervous about insuring Jackie Chan, and watching Rumble in the Bronx will put why on full display. Jackie is known for performing his own stunts, and this movie features some of his most daring — including a leap from a building rooftop to an adjacent building's small balcony. 

Jackie plays a Hong Kong cop (though his status as a cop isn't mentioned in all versions) on vacation for his uncle's wedding in New York when the grocery store his uncle just sold falls victim to a protection racket from a local biker gang. Our hero fights back out of a misguided sense of nobility which exposes a gritty New York of yore. His altruistic nature leads him to face off against ruthless biker gangs and mobsters. 

The movie itself is pretty low-budget, but you rarely notice due to Jackie's insane fighting choreography and death-defying stunts. The action star is in peak form, with so much energy it bubbles up out of him onto the screen in the form of hilarious facial expressions or acrobatic kung fu maneuvers. The elaborate battle sequences highlight his ability to use his surroundings — the man fights back with everything around him, using bottles, skis, and pinball machines against hordes of bad guys. Rumble in the Bronx is a testament to Jackie Chan's star power, and it still holds up all these years later. 

Worst: Dragon Blade fails hard with a great cast

If you have ever had a fever dream involving John Cusack crossing swords with Jackie Chan, then prepare to have your brain explode. The sheer absurdity delivers a sliver of joy but fails to rescue Dragon Blade from being a big, fat dud. Other than the novelty of some of the action, most of Dragon Blade falls flat. Once again, the downfall of any Jackie Chan flick is its creators' inability to utilize their star properly. The cast was backed up by not just John Cusack but also Adrian Brody, and no part of the script hints as to why they climbed on board this disaster.

The fight sequences still put Chan's abilities on display, showing that he's got some juice left in the engine. The few sparks of life fail to ignite the fuse on this lackluster ride, though. There is very little story to follow, and almost everything put on-screen is cringeworthy cliché. We came for the cast, which makes the end result more painful. Best to skip out on this one if you want to retain your love for these actors. 

Best: The Legend of Drunken Master is everything we love about Jackie Chan

The best part of The Legend of Drunken Master is witnessing a fresh-faced Jackie Chan fully embrace all the parts of him we love. While his martial arts abilities are dazzling, it's Chan's animated expressions and gift for physical comedy which sets him apart from his counterparts. The humor injection is always a welcome break from the flurry of fists. This kung fu sequel is Jackie's first film to fully embrace his best attributes — in the same vein of Evil Dead 2.

Jackie plays Wong Fei-hung, son to a local merchant who mistakenly mixes up a prescription of ginseng root with a fellow traveler's Chinese artifact. His attempts to cover up his mistake only result in further disaster. Wong drowns his sorrows in alcohol and begins drunken brawls with the henchman searching for the artifact. As it turns out, Wong is adept in the art of drunken boxing and becomes an increasingly adept fighter the more he's inebriatied. The Legend of Drunken Master is arguably one of Chan's best displays of physical comedy. While the first film is fun to watch — to enjoy an extremely young Jackie in his humble beginnings — this sequel is more fully formed. There are few other Jackie Chan films that so adeptly utilize every element of the man's talent — from using every piece of his surroundings as a weapon to a nonstop barrage of goofy faces.

Worst: Skiptrace isn't worth the time

The buddy cop genre is a tried and true formula leading straight to America's heart. Unfortunately, even the greats can make a wrong turn or two or three. Skiptrace teams Jackie Chan up with goofball supreme Johnny Knoxville. One would assume that funny plus funny would equal hysterical, but there are some diminishing returns on humor here. Rather than the two stars jiving off each other, they seem to actually hold each other back.

Once again, Jackie plays a Hong Kong detective. And once again, he is paired up with an apathetic American. The two follow a trail of cliché to a predictable ending. The actors are victim to poor writing in Skiptrace. Anytime a Chan vehicle fails to deliver, it's due to lackluster writing because whenever it's time for the man to engage in fisticuffs, we still fall madly in love. Just like any other Jackie Chan film, you're going to get some small form of entertainment out of Skiptrace if you're bored. We just wouldn't recommend seeking it out.

Best: Who Am I? is a uniquely great action flick

It speaks volumes as to Jackie Chan's work ethic that in the same year he led a blockbuster hit alongside Chris Tucker, he also wrote and directed Who Am I? The aptly named film stars Jackie as a special forces operative who suffers amnesia after his aircraft crashes in the South African jungle. After spending weeks living among the natives and recuperating, he hitches a ride with a cross-country rally car team to Johannesburg and begins his journey of self-discovery.

Who Am I? allowed Jackie to show off everything in his talent arsenal. He wasn't just a loveable kung fu hero — he was a character with layers and emotion. The responsibility of directing did nothing to slow down Chan's lust for death-defying action sequences. Who Am I? features some of the coolest car maneuvers in cinema as well as a rooftop fight sequence that will melt your face off. It is a unique combat scene that stands distinct from any other Jackie Chan fight.

Worst: Around the World in 80 Days is a major flop

There was quite a bit of disappointment surrounding Around the World in 80 Days. The beloved Jules Verne classic was ripe for adaptation, but Disney wrapped their talons around it and took off in the wrong direction. Rather than remain true to the source material, they attempted to transform it into a Jackie Chan movie. As much as we love the clown prince of combat, you can't force what isn't there. Adding insult to injury was the hefty production price tag ($110 million) that saw little return ($72 million worldwide).

Around the World in 80 Days was, by all definitions, a complete flop. With the massive budget, we can honestly say that visually, it looks decent. This does nothing to disguise the fact that any attempt at humor falls flat on its face. The endless supply of pratfalls start to become sad for even trying. The only thing Around the World in 80 Days does is make you feel sorry for the actors, who almost seem to recognize that the lines aren't funny, so they try to shout them as loud as possible to make up for it.

Best: Shanghai Noon is an East-meets-West comedy delight

By the time Jackie Chan came out with Shanghai Noon, it appeared like the star was just trying to find new challenges for himself. Next on the list, of course, was a good ol' fashioned American Western. He plays Chon Wang (a cheeky homonym for John Wayne — say it out loud, it's fun), an imperial guard from the Forbidden City in the late 19th century on a mission to retrieve a princess who has been taken hostage by a defector. Early in his journey, Wang is on a train that is robbed by Owen Wilson's outlaw Roy O'Bannon. The two form an unlikely alliance, with O'Bannon teaching Wang the ways of the West while they navigate a xenophobic Wild West landscape.

Shanghai Noon gives us a great action comedy with most of the Jackie Chan fights being paired with a dry Owen Wilson narrating exclamations on the sidelines. It's a twist on the buddy cop duo story featuring two leads who appear to be plopped into a time period in which they don't belong. The offbeat genre casting appears detrimental on paper, but Jackie apparently pairs great with everything because it works splendidly. Shanghai Noon doesn't take itself too seriously, allowing you to sit back and have fun, which is for the best, because the whole cast seems like they are having a blast.

Worst: The Tuxedo is an overproduced cheese-fest

The Tuxedo is one of Jackie Chan's most disappointing films ever. The idea seems cheeky and cute on paper but is executed so poorly that it makes us almost not like Jackie ... almost. The entire ordeal feels like a rejected Bond script. Movie audiences are willing to take a walk into fantasyland when it comes to plot devices, but the technologically enhanced tuxedo ploy falls flat from the moment the action star slips into his penguin suit.

Jackie plays a limo driver charged with driving a debonair Bond-type (Jason Isaacs) when his passenger is put out of commission. When he puts on the man's tuxedo, he discovers that it enhances his combat skills and turns him into an accidental secret agent. The Tuxedo is so heavily overproduced that its shiny veneer actually dulls Jackie Chan's raw star power. The only thing this campy flop does is show that even after losing 90 minutes of our lives to mediocrity, we are still willing to forgive Chan.

Best: Supercop is everything an action movie should be

This third addition to the Police Story collection features Jackie Chan reprising his role as its resident "supercop" to go undercover and infiltrate a major drug ring. Supercop marks the beginning of Jackie's transition to Hollywood from the Hong Kong film market. It takes all the high-flying Jackie Chan panache and adds a big, heaping scoop of old-school pyrotechnics and plenty of gunfire. When he isn't dodging bullets and fists, our hero is busy keeping his cool among a sea of bad guy bravado. There are plenty of tight situations for the heroes to wiggle out of and a hearty dose of comedy — both physical and situational. 

At times, Jackie Chan movies can take a lackadaisical approach to story structure, opting instead for playful banter meant to fill the void between action sequences. Supercop avoids this flaw and blends all the elements of a great action flick. The physical comedy transcends the language barrier, the story is intriguing, and the stunts will all make you the right kind of nervous. Around the time Jackie is swinging from a rope ladder on a helicopter and crashing onto a moving freight train, you'll have no doubt as to why the man is a star. The elaborate fight choreography with a legion of baddies atop a moving locomotive certainly helps drive the point home.

Worst: The Spy Next Door is just plain sad

The route for every action mega-star eventually passes through kid-friendly territory. No plot device is more familiar than the secret agent getting stuck babysitting some kids. Perhaps that's why The Spy Next Door feels so exhaustingly trite from the opening credits. Jackie plays an ex-spy looking to settle down in suburbia when his next-door neighbor girlfriend needs to go out of town. He, of course, offers to watch after her three kids. Things get out of control when one of the kids downloads a secret document off his computer and bad guys descend.

Not only is the story wildly unoriginal, but the poorly casted ensemble features George Lopez in probably his laziest role ever. Also in the crew is Billy Ray Cyrus, making you feel puzzled as to why the heck he is there — and also creating an incredible urge to reach into the screen and rip off his soul patch. As if this all wasn't depressing enough, Jackie Chan seems drained of the childish joy we've come to love about him. The Spy Next Door falls flat in every department, and the action sequences remind us of the sad truth: Jackie Chan is getting old. Best to skip this one and enjoy some of his subsequent films, with filmmakers who know how to utilize his strengths.