Why We Never Hear About Jackie Chan Anymore

With a lethal combination of slapstick, martial arts and death-defying stunts, Jackie Chan rose to iconic status in his Hong Kong homeland during the 1980s. In the following decade, he made that rare leap to Hollywood success with a breakthrough role in the buddy cop comedy franchise "Rush Hour." Then in the '00s, he was barely off American screens, appearing in everything from western caper "Shanghai Noon" to wuxia favorite "The Forbidden Kingdom."

However, the action hero's profile appears to have diminished of late. Indeed, you have to go as far back as 2010, when Chan took over as chief mentor Mr. Han in the remake of "The Karate Kid," for the last time that he took top billing in a domestic box office hit.

So, what's happened to the once-ubiquitous star? From long-gestating sequels and controversial political views to startling memoir confessions and tax scandals, here are 14 reasons why Chan's Tinseltown career looks to have stalled.

Several planned sequels have failed to get off the ground

Jackie Chan fronted two successful franchise-spawning films at the turn of the century, first appearing alongside Chris Tucker in wisecracking buddy cop comedy "Rush Hour" and then Owen Wilson in martial arts/western crossover "Shanghai Noon." The latter has since spawned a sequel and the former another two installments. But despite plenty of talk over the last few years, fans have still been left waiting for any further chapters.

After years of toing and froing, MGM Studios confirmed in 2015 that "Shanghai Dawn" was in the works, with Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite") hired as its director shortly after. But that's pretty much the last we've heard of the project since.

"Rush Hour 4" is another Chan-starring vehicle that seems to have been stuck in development hell. While appearing on podcast "The Plug" in 2018 (via GQ), Tucker claimed that the movie was still in fruition but again audiences have been left hanging. Chan did tell the press at the 2022 Red Sea International Film Festival that talks about the sequel had opened up again. However, considering 15 years have now passed since its predecessor, it would be advised not to hold your breath.

Jackie Chan turned down an Oscar-winning smash

In 2016, Jackie Chan was given an honorary Oscar for his achievements in the film world. This was the first time he'd ever been recognized by the Academy. But the action star could well have picked up the real thing seven years later had his schedule not been so busy.

Chan was the first person that directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert had in mind for the lead role in parallel universe tale "Everything Everywhere All At Once." But when the martial arts icon was forced to turn the project down due to other commitments, the filmmakers decided to gender-flip the character and cast Michelle Yeoh instead.

Of course, Chan's replacement would go on to earn an Academy Award for her portrayal of laundromat owner Evelyn Quan Wang, with the film also winning a further six gongs on the night. Yeoh had previously revealed to CNN that her long-time friend had messaged her following the news of her nomination. And he couldn't resist getting a cheeky dig in: "I remember Jackie texting me and saying, 'Congratulations! You know you realize your boys came to see me first.' I'm like, 'Thank you bro, you did me a huge favor.'"

Jackie Chan has been focusing on China

While Jackie Chan's name has been conspicuous by its absence in American cinemas, the man is still a big screen regular in the Far East. Indeed, look at his filmography over the past few years and you might be surprised to see that he's still as busy as ever.

In 2020, he fronted action-adventure "Vanguard." A year later, he cameoed in COVID-19 dramedy "All U Need Is Love," took on a supporting role in rom-com "Good Night Beijing" and voiced dragon Long in the Mandarin dub of animation "Wish Dragon." And four Chinese projects are due to be released in 2023, including his directorial effort "The Diary" and stuntman drama "Ride On."

As quoted by Dim Sum Daily, Chan explained at the latter's Beijing premiere why he turned his back on his American Dream: "I went there, but nobody said my fighting was good. Nobody cared about my fighting scenes. So, I gave up Hollywood. Today, I am proud of my decision. It was not that I wanted to go to Hollywood, but that Hollywood wanted me." The star also advised any budding Chinese action heroes to forget about hopping to the States, adding, "People won't write scripts for you. Stay in China and develop your abilities. When you become successful, people will come to find you."

He has continually sparked controversy with his political views

It's fair to say that Jackie Chan's politics have changed since his rise to Hollywood fame. In 1989, he aligned himself with the Tiananmen Square protests as a performer at the Concert for Democracy in China. In 2021, however, the action star revealed he wanted to become a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Indeed, in recent years Chan has become just as renowned for his propaganda efforts than his film career. While appearing at a China Film Association-backed symposium, the "Rumble in the Bronx" star reportedly said (via Variety), "I just think the Chinese Communist Party is really so magnificent. What the Party says, what it promises, it doesn't need 100 years to accomplish — it will definitely accomplish it in just a few decades. I want to be a Party member!"

Just two years earlier, Chan had spoken out against protests over the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill. In an interview with CCTV, China's state broadcaster, the martial arts icon said he was heartbroken and worried about the unrest and pledged his support to a campaign on social media designed to prevent the desecration of the national flag.

Jackie Chan trashed his reputation in a memoir

Jackie Chan used to be known as one of Hollywood's nice guys. But in 2015, the action star completely obliterated his reputation with an extremely candid memoir which featured confessions about extra-marital affairs, hard-drinking and domestic abuse.

Translated into English three years later, "Never Grow Up" saw Chan admit to having sex with a woman he referred to as simply Number Nine in a club's toilet cubicle. He also discussed getting behind the wheel while inebriated during his rise to fame: "I drunk drove all the time. In the morning, I'd crash my Porsche, then in the evening, I'd total a Mercedes-Benz. All day long, I went around in a haze."

But perhaps the most shocking revelation involved his son Jaycee. "The Tuxedo" star recalled picking his then-two-year-old boy up with just one hand and flinging him across the living room. Luckily, Jaycee landed on a sofa as Chan went on to write, "With the amount of force I used, if he'd hit the back or armrests, it could have been quite serious."

Jackie Chan once tried to knife a director

Could the confession that Jackie Chan made on a Chinese chat show have deterred some higher profile filmmakers from casting the martial arts icon? While appearing on "Shidian Talk" in 2022, the "Around the World in 80 Days" star revealed that he once tried to physically attack a director following an on-set dispute.

The drama occurred when the unnamed man helming the unnamed movie in question made derogatory remarks about Chan's family. Unsurprisingly, the action hero immediately saw red. "I was scolded so much and he even dragged my ancestors in," he said (via Express). "So I took a knife and wanted to go and cut the director. I said that he can scold me as much as he wants but don't insult my mother."

Luckily, another giant of the martial arts world, Sammo Hung, was able to deescalate the situation before the director was scarred for life and Chan was marched off to a police cell. The latter recalled: "Sammo grabbed hold of me and said: 'Are you crazy?'"

His recent Hollywood roles have been voiceovers

Although you might not have seen Jackie Chan on the big screen as of late, chances are you've heard his voice, particularly if you've taken a little one to the cinema. Indeed, while the martial arts hero seems reluctant to take on any live-action roles in Hollywood, he still seems happy to lend his tones to its animated features.

In 2016, Chan reprised his role as Master Monkey in the third installment of the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise. A short time later he can be heard in two other sequels, first playing Mr. Feng in "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" and then Mr. Liu in "The Lego Ninjago Movie." And then in 2023, he was cast as the voice of wise rat Splinter in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem."

In a 2017 interview with The Movie Mensch, Chan explained why he's drawn to such work: "Sometimes with martial arts you can have limits. In cartoons, you're not limited with martial arts. You can do anything and everything and you never get old. They have good messages to children — to respect everything."

He has become increasingly anti-American

As the likes of Dixie Chicks found out to their cost, you criticize America at your own peril. In 2013, Jackie Chan risked alienating much of his Western fan base when he described the United States as the most corrupt country in the world.

The martial artist made the comments in response to the international outcry over China's censorship of a major newspaper. He told a Hong Kong TV network (via The Washington Post), "The New China. The real success has been made in the past dozen of years. Our country's president also admits they have the corruption problem, and some other stuff, but we are making progress. What I can see is our country is continuously making progress and learning."

The "Police Story" star then switched his focus to Uncle Sam, also blaming the country for the recent financial crisis that impacted the world. This wasn't the first time that Chan had courted controversy for similar views. He once described Taiwanese democracy as "the biggest joke in the world," and referring to the Chinese censorship of his movies argued, "Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want."

Jackie Chan tarred all young actors with the same brush

Having previously described America as the most corrupt country in the world and confessed to nearly knifing a director during an on-set dispute, Jackie Chan once again appeared to go out of his way to make himself Mr. Unpopular when he essentially described an entire generation of actors as lazy.

Seemingly frustrated by a recent experience with an unnamed young star, "The Spy Next Door" star remarked in an interview (via 8days), "I won't say who it is, but lately, our actors don't want to sweat, can't do wire stunts, and can't do dangerous things. They want to show action and look good, yet they can't take hardship."

Chan went on to chastise those who rock up to the set last but leave first before declaring that the rise of the entourage has enabled such work-shy youngsters to live a too-contented life. The action hero also got everyone guessing when he singled out one particular high-maintenance co-star in another chat. He said (via Today Online), "After shooting just two scenes, everyone would tell her that she worked hard. What hard work? That wasn't hard work at all!"

Jackie Chan professed love for natural disasters

Jackie Chan once again put his foot in his mouth in 2013 when he made the bizarre admission that he enjoys the aftermath whenever a country has been hit by a natural disaster. The action hero was on the promotional trail for "Chinese Zodiac" at the time, but inevitably his comments detracted from the film, with many Japanese former fans claiming they would boycott his work from now on.

After being questioned about the relations between China and the United States, Chan replied (via The Daily Telegraph), "I should not say this, but sometimes I really like to see a country having a disaster, or a big tsunami, or a big earthquake. After the big disaster, you see the whole world, everybody, flying in to help the country, which makes me happy."

Chan, who in 2005 embarked on a four-day goodwill trip to areas affected by the devastating St. Stephen's Day tsunami, went on to add, "No tsunami, no earthquake, everybody [with] nothing to do. Then politics comes in and you fight me. I fight ... I don't like to see such things."

His return to Hollywood was underwhelming

Five years after last gracing American cinema screens, Jackie Chan starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in 2017's "The Foreigner," an adaptation of Stephen Leather's 1992 novel "The Chinaman." Unfortunately, the rather underwhelming response to the action thriller suggested the action hero was better off concentrating on the Far East market.

Indeed, the movie grossed just $34.4 million domestically, a figure which fell $600,000 short of its budget. And the critics weren't much more enthusiastic, with RogertEbert.com writing, "Chan may still be figuring out what he can and can't do in his old age. But dreck like "The Foreigner" should be swiftly crossed off his bucket list, and never revisited." The New York Times, meanwhile, argued that its leading man didn't serve up the requite pizzazz or gravitas.

You could say that the writing was on the wall when the movie's trailer was released, with fans upset that a man from Hong Kong had been cast as a Vietnamese. However, representatives for the movie later insisted that the character's nationality had changed from the source material.

He was caught up in a tax evasion scandal

Jackie Chan's all-round good egg reputation took a further hammering in 2016 when he became embroiled in a tax evasion scandal. The "Rush Hour" star was named alongside the likes of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, golfer Nick Faldo and chess master Bobby Fischer in the Panama Papers, a series of documents which revealed how various high profile figures use offshore accounts to obscure their wealth.

Chan was reported to have been linked to no fewer than six different offshore companies, all of which were based in the British Virgin Islands. These included Dragon Stream Ltd., Jackie Chan Ltd. and Jumbo Jaz Investment.

The actor's tax affairs were also rumored to be behind the seizing of two Beijing luxury apartments four years later. Per Vice, the properties, which Chan and his family resided in for more than ten years, were later auctioned off with a starting valuation of approximately $14 million.

Jackie Chan refused to join The Expendables

You might have wondered why Jackie Chan has never joined the cast of "The Expendables." After all, the uber-macho franchise features Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and every other major action star of the past four decades. Well, it's not for the want of an invitation.

In a 2014 interview with Den of Geek, Chan revealed (via Digital Spy) that he had indeed been approached to star in several installments but that he essentially didn't want to share the screen with his peers: "This morning I did hear — the office called — Sly [Stallone] wants me for "Expendables 4." I said, 'Okay.' Because they already asked me to be in two and three, but I refused. Well, I didn't refuse, but I said, 'Sly, can't we just do you and me? Not just a bunch of people and me only coming out for five minutes.' Because then the audience is, 'Oh!' And then I'm gone."

This wasn't the first time that Chan had turned down Stallone, either. Back in the early '90s, he'd rejected an offer to star as criminal Simon Phoenix in "Demolition Man" — a role that eventually went to Wesley Snipes — as he wasn't comfortable with the idea of playing a villain. 

Jackie Chan is no longer interested in fame

Jackie Chan was arguably one of the most famous actors in the world back in the 2000s thanks to his martial arts work and Hollywood roles in "Rush Hour," "Shanghai Noon" and "The Tuxedo." But while the action hero used to thrive on his level of celebrity, he now claims that he's no longer interested in being on screen for the sake of it.

In a 2017 interview with China Daily, Chan admitted, "At first I made films to earn money. Then, I wanted fame. Now, I think neither is important." The star also insisted that he's now more concerned with the public's response to a film than any critical reaction.

Of course, Chan can afford to be a little relaxed when it comes to money. In 2016, he was named as the second highest-paid actor in the world by Forbes magazine. And his current net worth reportedly stands at a whopping $400 million!