Jackie Chan is one of the world’s most talented actors and one of the most successful action film heroes of all time. Chan is best known for his acrobatic fighting style and innovative stunts. He’s also noted for his outstanding ability to weave in comic relief into otherwise tense episodes.
A professionally trained fighter, Jackie Chan is credited for popularizing kung fu movies in Hollywood. Chan is also one of the few action film stars who choreograph and perform all their stunts by themselves.
But with an acting career spanning more than five decades, the process of choosing the best Jackie Chan movies to watch may seem a bit daunting. Fortunately for you, we’ve prepared a definitive list of Jackie Chan’s most spellbinding movies ever.
10. The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
IMDB Rating: 6.6
Jason (Michael Angarano) is a teenager from Boston’s Chinatown who desires to learn kung fu. He rummages around for bootleg kung fu DVDs in a pawn shop and stumbles upon a lost relic in the form of a golden staff.
As Jason tries to check the staff out, he’s magically transported to a mysterious kingdom in ancient China, along with his staff. Once there, he teams up with a kung fu master Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and a misfit warrior, with a mission to free a jailed warrior known as the Monkey King (Jet Li).
Apparently, the Monkey King is the owner of the golden staff. Failure is not an option as that would mean Jason is trapped in this ancient kingdom forever.
9. Who Am I? (1998)
IMDB Rating: 6.9
A group of CIA operatives is on a mission to uncover a potential new energy source. They’re double-crossed by one of their own, agent Morgan (Ron Smerczak).
Morgan causes a plane crash deep in a tribal area of South Africa. The crash kills everyone else but Jackie (Jackie Chan).
Although he survives the plane crash, Jackie comes out severely amnesiac. He’s taken in and nursed to recovery by a kind native, who calls him “Whoami.”
A mysterious reporter (played by Michelle Ferre) comes along and helps Jackie to regain his memory. As soon as it all comes back to him, Jackie sets out on a mission to track the turncoat agent and bring him to justice.
8. Shanghai Knights (2003)
IMDB Rating: 6.2
Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) travel to London, England. They’re on a mission to avenge Chon’s estranged father’s death, who was gruesomely murdered by a Chinese rebel now living in England.
The duo teams up with Chon’s sister, whom Roy, a renowned womanizer, immediately falls in love with. This time around, what Roy feels for Chon’s sister is true love. But being highly protective of her younger sister and well-aware of Roy’s past failed relationships, Chon is keen to stop any romance from blossoming between his sister and Roy.
When the three arrive in London, they discover a wider plot to assassinate members of the Royal family. Chon’s father’s murderer is right at the center of these sinister plots, something that gives Chon even more impetus to avenge his father’s death.
But the assassin won’t come down so easily. He’s a highly trained fighter and also a revered man among the royalty’s rank and file. It takes some time to unmask him and ultimately take him out.
7. The Foreigner (2017)
IMDB Rating: 7.0
The Foreigner is one of Jackie Chan’s most recent movies, which helps to shine a light on Chan’s passion for the big screen. Although he’s visibly old, Jackie’s acrobatic skills are still fairly unmatched.
In this 2017 thriller, Jackie Chan is portrayed as a humble London Chinese restaurateur named Ngoc Minh Quan. Quan is a widowed former Vietnam War veteran.
He loses his teenage daughter in a careless act of politically instigated terrorism. She was the only thing in his life that kept him going, having lost everything else during his active years in the military.
Like any father would do, Quan embarks on a mission to avenge his daughter’s death. His search for the terrorists lands him on the doorsteps of a senior British government official who’s also fighting his own secretive wars with the terror gangs.
6. Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow (1978)
IMDB Rating: 7.4
Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow is one of the oldest Jackie Chan movies on this list, but still one of the most watch-worthy ones.
The movie’s storyline follows an orphan named Chien Fu (Jackie Chan), who works as a janitor at a kung fu school.
Chien Fu endures constant abuse and mistreatment by both teachers and students at the school he works at. He puts up with all the bullying until fate sends some help his way.
After assisting an old peripatetic beggar, the old man is impressed by Chien’s kind heart. He decides to devote his time to teaching Chien Fu kung fu skills that he can use to defend himself from bullies.
5. The Karate Kid (2010)
IMDB Rating: 6.2
The Karate Kid (2010) is a remake of the 1984 movie by the same title. Both films have the same underlying messages – that violence doesn’t solve any problems, and that true martial arts advocates for peace and self-reflection as opposed to fighting and seeking revenge.
The 2010 movie follows a 12-year-old American boy named Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) who moves to China alongside his mother. Dre soon finds that he’s a stranger in a foreign land.
Although he knows some karate, his fighting skills pale in comparison to those of Cheng, the school bully. Dre is repeatedly bullied by Cheng and his kung fu gang.
Fortunately, he’s rescued by his building’s maintenance guy, a reclusive mixed martial arts master called Han (Jackie Chan). Han teaches Dre everything he needs to know about kung fu, with the hope that he will be able to defend himself from marauding bullies at school as well as win the heart of a cute classmate named Mei Ying.
4. Police Story (1985)
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Police work is never easy. And this Jackie Chan movie doesn’t begin to belittle the selfless sacrifices police officers all over the world make in keeping their respective jurisdictions crime-free.
In Police Story, Jackie Chan plays Kevin Chan, a Hong Kong cop tasked with protecting a police informer who also happens to be the girlfriend of a Triad boss. It’s a highly demanding assignment that few officers would accept with open arms, and the rest of the storyline proves so.
Chan single-handedly captures and arrests a notorious drug lord. But his glory is short-lived.
He’s soon framed for the murder of a dirty cop. He must go on the run and craft a way to clear his name before it’s too late.
3. Rush Hour Series (1998-2007)
IMDB Rating: 7.0 for Rush Hour (1998), 6.6 for Rush Hour 2 (2001), and 6.2 for Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) share one thing in common – they both delight in working alone. But that’s where their similarities end. In fact, their very approach to solving crimes makes them one of the most incompatible police pairs in the cinematic world.
In the first installment of Rush Hour, the duo teams up to rescue the kidnapped daughter of the Chinese Consul. After a couple of false starts, which include the FBI cunningly trying to lock Chief Inspector Lee out of the case due to his friendship with the consul, the pair eventually succeeds in cracking the case.
Lee and Carter somewhat bond together and form a working team that sees them crack other cases in the movie’s second and third installments.
2. Rumble In The Bronx (1995)
IMDB Rating: 6.8
Rumble In The Bronx documents the struggles that Hong Kong policeman Keung (Jackie Chan) go through in busting criminal syndicates.
Keung travels from Hong Kong to New York City to attend the wedding of his uncle Bill (Bill Tung). Bill is a grocer who recently sold his grocery store to Elaine (Anita Lui).
After a biker gang storms the store and wreaks havoc, Keung must suspend his vacation and use his martial arts skills in defending the innocent workers and patrons.
Keung later befriends a local gang in a bid to understand more about the New York criminal underworld. He then learns about a major criminal enterprise that must be brought to justice.
1. Drunken Master (1978)
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Drunken Master is another fairly old Jackie Chan movie on this list, released the same year as Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow. The movie aptly lives up to its title, as the two protagonists are Wong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) and his alcoholic master Su Hua Chi (Yuen Siu-tien).
Jackie Chan is portrayed as a mischievous young boy trying to learn a special martial arts skill from his alcoholic master in order to stop an assassin called Thunderleg (Hwang Jang-lee).
However, Wong doesn’t seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation. He delights in clowning around instead of focusing on his martial arts classes.
But somewhere along the road, Wong begins to take his classes seriously. He’s able to learn the special skills and ultimately defeats Thunderleg.
Jackie Chan has appeared in more than 150 films to date. That explains the relative difficulty in choosing which of his movies to watch first.
But if you’re looking for the most captivating, sobering, or rib-cracking Jackie Chan movies to watch this weekend, you should definitely consider films from the above list.