Jackie Chan is one of the most lauded personalities in Asian cinema. He started as early as the 1960s, and at 61 years of age, Forbes just named Jackie Chan the second highest paid actor in its 2015 list. Jackie comes in at $50 million in revenue. In first place is Robert Downey Jr. with $80 million.
Though he has significant notoriety in China, fewer of Jackie Chan’s film projects take hold outside of Asia. Chan managed to break into the United States market in the 90s with a series of action films, including Rumble in the Bronx and Rush Hour. But in China, Jackie Chan is a full-fledged celebrity, involved in all the latest scandals and celebrity gossip.
Jackie Chan faces criticism from the way he does business in China. Chan is originally from Hong Kong, but in recent years, he has criticized the democratic society in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and in the United States. The more Chan seeks to solidify business ties in China, the more he caters his words and actions towards a political agenda.
This political agenda has allowed his films to thrive in the Chinese market, where censorship and regulation are usually heavy on artists and filmmakers. The Washington Post reported on some of Chan’s questionable statements in recent years.
“Chinese know Chan, a Hong Kong native, for largely the same reasons. But they also know him for something most Americans might find surprising: He is passionately political, a staunch defender of the Chinese Communist Party and harsh critic of anyone he sees as opposing Beijing. Today, that includes the United States.
“Chan, responding to widespread criticism of China’s recent censorship of a popular newspaper, insisted in a Chinese TV interview that the United States is ‘the most corrupt country in the world.’ He scolded Chinese who criticize their country in a way that foreigners can hear or see, adding that he’s careful to only praise China when giving interviews in the U.S.”
Jackie has also been quoted defending highly criticized choices made by the Chinese government. Chan’s views over the years have transformed to become more supportive of the Chinese Communist Party while trashing activists and rights defenders in Chinese society.
Chan was quoted saying, “I don’t know whether it is better to have freedom or to have no freedom. With too much freedom, it can get very chaotic.”
“Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want,” he said.
Meanwhile, people in Chan’s home island of Hong Kong continue to protest against the restriction of freedoms imposed on them by the communist authorities. The South China Morning Post quoted a Hong Kong-based writer’s response to Jackie Chan’s various stances against freedom in China.
“Chan doesn’t bother to understand why some Hong Kong people choose to take to the streets. He just tends to think that whatever the government does is correct.”
Jackie Chan is making a lot of money in China by making sure his films aren’t censored. But he is seen as playing into the hands of forces imposing artistic censorship and societal restriction, rather than challenging them.
[Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images]