On November 12th, at the eighth annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, California, Jackie Chan received an honorary Oscar award.
According to the Governors Awards website, Honorary Awards are given for ” lifetime achievements, exceptional contributions to motion picture arts and sciences, and outstanding service to the Academy.” In receiving the award, Chan joins other famous stars such as Spike Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, and Steve Martin.
62-year-old Jackie Chan is most-famously known for his martial arts and acting skills, although he also does some singing. According to his official website, Chan started his acting career at 7 years old while attending the China Drama Academy, where he also studied martial arts, acrobatics, and singing. After graduating at age 17, he entered the Hong Kong movie business as a stuntman and gradually became known for his fearlessness. At age 21, after doing odd jobs in Australia, he starred in his first major film, “New Fist of Fury.” But it was in his later blockbusters “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon” that he garnered the attention of American audiences. In addition to his work in more than 200 films, Chan is also known for his philanthropy. He is particularly involved in his own organizations, the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, which focuses on helping young people in Hong Kong, and the Dragon Heart’s Foundation, which aims to “fulfill the desperate needs of children and the elderly in remote areas of China.”
“After 56 years in the film industry, making more than 200 films, after so many bones, finally, this is mine,” Chan said to applause. In addition to thanking Hollywood, his family and friends, and his own stunt team, he also thanked Hong Kong — his “hood” — and China for making him “proud to be Chinese.” Wrapping up his speech in his typical charismatic style, Chan comedically stopped the Oscars band and finally thanked his fans. “Because of you, I have a reason to continue to make movies, jump in a window, kicking and punching, breaking my bones, thank you so much!” he said as the band resumed.
Actor Tom Hanks, “Police Story” co-star Michelle Yeoh, and “Rush Hour” co-star Chris Tucker congratulated Chan and lauded Chan for his work. Calling him “the man who puts the ‘Chan’ in ‘Chan-tastic,'” Tom Hanks praised Chan for his work in martial arts films and action comedies, as well as his ingenuity, physical talent, and dedication. Following Hanks, Michelle Yeoh shared a memorable story of a friendly stunt competition between herself and Chan. “He is exactly the same as the day I met him: honest, funny, kind, and despite the years, still possesses an astonishing physical prowess,” she said. Finally, Chris Tucker expressed his thanks and said that it was an honor working with a “living legend.”
Chan’s Oscar award is also a win for increasing diversity in the Oscars. Movie-making in Hollywood is notoriously under-representative of people of color. For some recent films, such as in Mulan, The Great Wall, and Dr. Strange, fans have been particularly critical of alleged “whitewashing.”
Online, Chinese people are ecstatic about Chan’s win; the hashtag “Jackie Chan wins Oscar Award for lifetime achievement” has circulated on Weibo. China has not yet received an Oscar, but perhaps Jack Ma and Steven Spielberg, and Dalian Wanda will change that.
By Abby Ordillas