Ok, so I was surfing the net, and discovered that Jackie Chan had a contest to find an “apprentice” that he would train to be the next big kung fu star in Hong Kong. He chose one guy and some sidekicks who were runners-up I guess. This got me to thinking about the occasional complaining and whining about where the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li or Collin Chou or Donnie Yen or, hold your breath…Bruce Lee, is coming from.
Let’s dispense with the obvious, yes, no one can replace Bruce. But I’d like to talk about the legacy he left, which is the kung fu star that also has personality. C’mon, go back and watch Way of the Dragon. I would argue that the reason why people luv Jackie and Jet is not just for their martial arts prowess, but also for their personalities. They do both. Remember Jet Li in Fong Sai Yuk? He could play a character, and a comedic one at that. Then turn around and be super-serious in Once Upon A Time in China. Same for Jackie Chan, although more on the comedic side. And thanks to directors like Corey Yuen and Tsui Hark for providing vehicles for them to be able to act and do crazy martial arts action. I would say that there are lots of them out there, like the under-appreciated Vincent Zhao (who I hear is supposed to be in a Yuen Wo Ping movie soon–yay), but circumstances are preventing them from coming to the fore. That’s just what I think, I have no evidence to support this claim. 🙂
So I would suggest that we’re not just looking for the next kung fu star, but a kung fu star with personality, that certain something that Hong Kong films used to do well, and maybe not as much of anymore. I’m not one of those who are saying the Hong Kong film industry is irretrievably lost, but I think that it can have more of what it used to have.