Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Ang Lee: Chinamen to the world

By Lito Tandoy

I’ll never tire of Jacky Chan, the old time favorite of mine and many, many others. There is of course Bruce Lee, the legendary karate king, before him. Lee is the first, ever, among nameless Chinese character actors that introduced and conquered the world through martial arts on the big screen.

Lee, Chan and Jet Li are everyman’s heroes that popularized  not just Chinese martial arts but Chinese way of life in the turbulent countryside of China that made us understand the ups and downs, twists, turns and kicks of Chinese society, then and now.

When I was a kid and towards college in the 70’s, Bruce Lee was the unbeatable hero. I can still recall “The Way of the Dragon” and “Enter the Dragon,” his classic movies which I have seen not once but thrice in independent movie houses along the main streets of the city. The he died and we all grieved, our heart broken, having lost our first Asian hero we easily identify with.

James Bond may have entertained us but he was not like us, being a Caucasian and his stints are ridiculously impossible. Lee was like a Filipino who stood and defended the ordinary and humble.

Then Chan came, the first “galawgaw” (playful) martial arts actor who also became as superstar, first in Asia and then the world. Initially I was not into him because I sometimes find him too restless and I go distracted with his antics that got exaggerated at times. But I got to appreciate him fully with his later movies that delved on history and myth. It was magical and finally, we got to take a glimpse of a serious and light Chinese stuff.

Then comes Li, one unlikely Chinese hero but a good one too, and he brought us sensible and poignant stories we can learned from Chinese ancient wisdom, added or is it a bonus from the usual chop and kick?

Now, there is Ang Lee. No, he is not an actor, but a master film director, an award-winning one in Hollywood-American shores. You must have remember “Brokeback Mountain,” the trailblazing sensitive and touching gay-oriented movie that shock the world upside down and then followed by “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” a movie considered by many poetry on screen.

Personally, it is my all-time favorite. Then followed by “The life of Pi,” another gigantic sensible work of the director from Taiwan. The movie won him the best movie of the year-or was it the best director? Well, having won the Oscars twice, Ang Lee is a world-great and majestic in the field of arts.

Chan’s latest, “The Knight of Shadows between Yin and Yang” is another beautiful story-telling of the Chinese way of life the universal community can enjoy and learn from.

Long live Chinese and Asian stories!

Artwork courtesy of Deviant Art

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