Recently, I was at the Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival, a Chinese-Jewish celebration in NYC that reflects the fact that the Lower East Side Eldridge Street Synagogue, is now considered to be in Chinatown thanks to that neighborhood's shifting border. For the crowds, performers trained in Chinese opera staged a comedic action sequence that involved lots of missed blows and bumbling performers--not to mention handstands and backflips (here's an acting class performing a similar scene--with only simple acrobatics). The kids in the audience had a serious case of the giggles, but the slo-mo performance required patience and imagination. Not exactly the thing for a video-game nation. As I finished off my egg cream, I reflected that the performance reminded me a bit of Jackie Chan. So imagine my satisfaction when I discovered that the actor was trained in Peking Opera as a child. A bit different than its European counterpart, Peking Opera requires performers to be proficient in acrobatics--the better to choreograph the fight sequences. That revelation adds to my respect of Chan as a performer.
Chan is returning to the action-comedy format that has brought him success in America. In a new English-language project, he will play a detective who is trying to track down an American who has stiffed a Macau casino. Described as a "two-hander," this means another action star with strong name recognition will play opposite Chan. But who? Chan has previously played opposite Chris Tucker in Rush Hour and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon. I wonder which star will step up. Currently, the newbie writer/director Jay Longino, who doesn't have the most impressive IMDB page, will direct from a script he's writing.
Because this will be a Chinese coproduction, the action-comedy will have more-than-usual profit potential. China limits the number of Hollywood films that can release in the nation each year, but has special exemptions for coproductions. That will make it that much easier for the English-language film to recoup its investment. Now, courtesy of YouTube, here's Jackie Chan singing opera.