Martial artist. Actor. Director.
Producer. Stuntman. Singer. These are the many hats worn by comedic action star
Jackie Chan, who has had a long and varied career in entertainment since he was
five years old.
Chan was born Chang Kong-sang in
British Hong Kong, where he was nicknamed Pao-pao
(Chinese for “cannonball”) due to his energetic nature and always rolling
around as a kid. He was enrolled into
Opera School where he excelled in martial arts and
acrobatics, eventually becoming part of the performance group comprised of the
school’s best students called Seven
Little Fortunes. He and some of the Fortunes would appear
in the 1962 film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar.
|Chan in the '70s.
Chan would continue to train in
various disciplines and take many small roles in films, becoming a stuntman at
17 in the Bruce Lee films Fist
of Fury and
Enter the Dragon.
His first starring role came in 1973 with the film Little
Tiger of Canton,
had a limited release in Hong Kong. Having difficulty finding sustainable work
due to the failures of his early efforts, Chan eventually joined his parents in
Australia where he worked in construction. A colleague named Jack took Chan
under his wing, earning Chan the nickname “Little Jack” that would become his
permanent name: Jackie.
|Rumbling in the Bronx.
Chan’s first major success came with
the 1978 film Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, which established
the comedic kung fu genre. Chan’s mainstream success came in the film Drunken
his manager Willie
(no relation), Chan attempted to break into the international market during the
1980s, initially having some trouble and choosing to renew his focus on Hong
Kong films. He finally conquered North America with the 1995 film Rumble
in the Bronx,
eventually led to his blockbuster success with the 1998 buddy cop action comedy
became widely known for his comedic timing, humorous fighting style, and
ability to improvise with any object as a weapon. Being a living cartoon on
screen practically begged for him to become a real one, and in 2000 those
prayers were answered with Jackie Chan
Adventures. Developed by Chan along with John Rogers,
the series followed the adventures of archaeologist Jackie Chan (James Sie, who
would go on to assume another Chan role of Monkey in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness)
after he had been conscripted into the services of the secret spy agency
Section 13 by his old friend, Captain Augustus Black (Clancy Brown).
With Section 13, Jackie would travel the world to retrieve mystical artifacts
in order to keep them out of the hands of various dark forces who would use
them for their own ends. Inspired by Chan’s films, cartoon Jackie would be
portrayed as a bumbling-yet-competent fighter who tried to avoid conflict as
much as possible, often exclaiming “Bad day! Bad day! Bad day!” whenever things
would go sideways and saw him fleeing for his life.
|Uncle casting a spell.
Aiding Jackie on his adventures
would be his uncle, known only as Uncle (Sab Shimono). Jackie lived and worked
with Uncle in his antique shop, Uncle’s Rare Finds, in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Uncle was an
accomplished martial artist from his years as part of the Seven Little
Fortunes, and a chi wizard. Uncle could often be heard exclaiming “aiyah!” or
saying “one more thing”, usually as admonitions to other characters, and
frequently employed a two-fingered slap upside the head in order to get their
full attention or chastise them for something stupid.
|Jade: as troublesome as she is helpful.
the start of the series, Jackie’s 12-year-old niece, Jade Chan (Stacie Chan,
again no relation, and Lucy
for the first appearance of her future self), came to stay with Jackie and
Uncle. Although she was born in Hong Kong, she was fully Americanized. Inspired
by Gosalyn Mallard from Darkwing Duck, she was
adventurous and often defied both of her guardians to participate on their
exploits. Although she often caused the trouble that would plague Jackie, she
just as often came up with solutions. A running gag on the show would have
Jackie supposedly locking her up in a secure location before things got too
heavy, only for her to appear seconds into the action.
Jackie Chan Adventures premiered
as part of their Kids’
programming block on September 9, 2000. It was a joint production between Blue
Train Entertainment, Adelaide Productions,
TriStar Television, Sony Pictures
Television and Chan’s own The JC Group;
a production company he founded for his works. The series’ intro, set to Wheatus’ “Chan’s the Man”
theme, featured a montage of Jackie being caught in comedic danger situations
and occasionally having him briefly swapped out for the real Chan. Chan would
again appear at the end of each episode to answer a fan question as read by Jade
that covered a variety of topics from his career to Chinese culture, as well as
promos for the show interacting with Jade, Uncle or other
Kids’ WB! characters. Animation was handled by Dong Woo Animation,
with the characters primarily designed by Jeff Matsuda.
While the characters were rendered in a clean style, the backgrounds were a bit
more abstract; featuring colors that would defy object border lines, much like
a child’s coloring book.
with Rogers, the series was written by David Slack, Duane Capizzi, Kevin Campbell, Tom Pugsley, Greg Klein, Alexx Van Dyne, Dean Stefan, Eddie Guzelian, Mark Seidenberg, Patti Carr, Lara Runnels, Andrew Robinson, Henry Gilroy, Jan Strnad, Dave Collard, Ken Goin, Hilary Bader, William Forrest Cluverius, Steven Melching, Rob Hoegee, Adam Beechen, Brian Kaplan, Michael Jelenic, Louis Hirshorn, Joelle Sellner, Raf Green, Marsha F. Griffin, Marty Isenberg, Nicole Dubuc and Dean Orion. Campbell, Slack and
Melching served as story editors. Jim
Latham and Christopher Ward
provided the music.
series became popular, running for a total of five seasons and expanding beyond
Saturday morning to air up to six
days a week on the network. Each season had its own
overreaching story arc and new primary villains, which were incorporated into the
intro for that year. The first season focused on the hunt
for twelve magical Talismans representing the animals on the Chinese zodiac.
Each Talisman had its own unique attribute: Rat could give inanimate objects
life; Ox bestowed super strength; Tiger could split a being’s Yin and Yang;
Rabbit granted super speed; Dragon fired pure, fiery energy; Snake granted
invisibility; Horse provided healing abilities; Sheep allowed astral
projection; Monkey allowed shape-shifting; Rooster gave the power of
levitation; Dog granted immortality; and Pig bestowed heat vision. The powers
once belonged to the demonic dragon Shendu (Sie) who ruled China until a chi
wizard cast him in stone and divided his ability amongst the Talismans some 900
freedom and revenge for both him and his siblings, the Demon Sorcerers, Shendu
managed to contact and ally himself with Valmont (Julian Sands
for the first two seasons, Andrew
Ableson after), the leader of the criminal organization known
as The Dark Hand. Valmont was a criminal mastermind and a martial arts expert
from the United Kingdom who could match and even best Jackie in a fight.
However, like most bosses, he preferred to leave the fighting to his men; specifically,
a group in his organization known as The Enforcers.
|The Enforcers: Hak Fu, Chow, Finn and Ratso.
Enforcers were comprised of Irish comedian Finn (Adam Baldwin),
who had a strong affinity for the 1970s and sang disco at weddings before the
Dark Hand; Ratso (Brown), a nerdy strongman with an innocent demeanor that wore
a bandage across his nose as a fashion statement; Chow (Sie), the shortest and
youngest member of the team who wore yellow-orange sunglasses; Hak Foo (Jim Cummings
in season 1, John
DiMaggio after), a red-haired martial artist who liked to
announce animal-related descriptions to his attack of choice at the moment; and
Tohru (Noah Nelson), a very large Japanese man who began to question his role
with the Dark Hand. Eventually, Tohru defected to Section 13 and became Uncle’s
employee and apprentice in his shop, learning chi magic and becoming a valuable
member of Jackie’s allies. Shendu also had his own minions, the Shadowkhan, who
looked like ninjas with glowing red eyes and gray skin.
|Shendu and a Demon Portal.
second season saw Shendu’s life in peril from his siblings for his failure to
free them. He made a bargain with them to allow him to possess someone on
Earth, preferably Jackie, in order to work at saving them again. They agreed,
but Shendu accidentally ended up possessing Valmont instead; bound to him due
to a curse Shendu’s siblings placed on him. As a result, both often vied for
control at a given time. The Dark Hand went after a legendary Pan’ku Box that
will lead them to the eight portals needed to free the Demon Sorcerers: Po Kong
the mountain demon; Tchang Zu (Brown), the thunder demon; Hsi Wu (André Sogliuzzo),
the sky demon; Tso Lan (Glenn
Shadix), the moon demon; Dai Gui (Frank Welker),
the Earth demon; Bai Tza (Marshall), the water demon; and Xiao Fung (Shadix
Burton), the wind demon. The season also saw the
introduction of Dark Chi wizard Daolon Wong (James Hong),
who was the antithesis of Uncle (jokingly referred to as “anti-Uncle” by Jade)
and utilized warriors empowered by Dark Chi. Wong sought to increase his powers
by absorbing Chi energy through the mouths located on his palms.
|Animals of power.
third season put renewed focus on the Talismans when Wong and the Dark Hand
simultaneously attacked Section 13 for them. In order to stop them, Jackie
destroyed the Talismans and unwittingly released their energy to possess noble
animals around the world. A new quest began to find the animals before Wong
could absorb their Chi energy, leading to the introductions of Scruffy the dog,
Sasha the tiger, Nick the rat, Hai-Ku the monkey, Egbert the rooster, Mordecai
the pig, Lucky the rabbit, Bab the sheep, Sampa the snake, Royal Medicine the
horse, and Yaka the ox. With all dragons extinct, the combustibility power fell
to Shendu who proceeded to trick Wong into giving him corporeal form.
fourth season had Wong attempt to re-summon the Shadowkhan, accidentally
summoning their king Tarakudo (Miguel Ferrer)
instead. He and his generals each had an Oni mask that allowed the wearer to
summon a different tribe of Shadowkhan with abilities different from what has
been seen on the show until now. When those masks were gathered into one place,
it allowed Tarakudo’s generals’ spirits to break free from the masks and gain
form on Earth. Shendu’s son from the future, Drago (Michael Rosenbaum),
came to the present in order to free his father but ended up setting his sights
on the powers of the Demon Sorcerers. Drago also recruited The Enforcers to his
cause, giving them an upgrade and new powers. In the final season, Drago went
around the world to find the cursed objects of the Immortals that imprisoned
the Demon Sorcerers in order to free them and conquer Earth.
|The J-Team: Viper, Tohru and El Toro Fuerte.
their adventures, the Chans sometimes required help from others they met. In
Mexico, they befriended El Toro Fuerte (Miguel Sandoval),
a masked luchador who prided himself on never removing his mask (even though he
ended up doing so in every episode). With him was always his number one fan,
Velez), a young boy around Jade’s age who had a conflicted
relationship with her, as well as a crush. Viper (Susan Eisenberg)
was initially a thief when she met Jackie, but gave up her life of crime to
become a security consultant after a run-in with the Dark Hand. Jade idolized
her, which annoyed Jackie who felt Viper was a bad influence. Regardless, they
had proved valuable allies on occasion, and when assembled by Jade, along with
Captain Black and Tohru, they formed the J-Team. Jade would also assemble the
empowered animals at one point to create the T-Troop, with her as an equally
action figures and three deluxe versions based on the
show. Despite the show’s popularity and longevity, these were the only toys
Playmates made and are incredibly rare, although not valuable. Burger King,
and Carl’s Jr.
all included various toys in their kid’s meals featuring the show’s characters. From 2002-2003, Grosset
& Dunlap released a series of easy
reader novelizations based on the series, while Tokyopop produced several
volumes of manga from 2004-2005. Eaglemoss International
a magazine from 2003-06 that adapted almost every episode into
|Jackie on DVD.
2001-2002, Sony Pictures
released four episodes on individual VHS tapes; three
in the United States with one
in the United Kingdom. In 2002, the first nine episodes were
released across three
DVD volumes in the United States, with the first two also
released overseas. The complete
first season was released in 2004, but only in Region
2. The complete
second season was released as a manufacture on demand
DVD in 2012 in the United States, and then as The
Demon Portals Saga in 2019 by Mill
Creek Entertainment. Two video games were released based on the show: Jackie
Chan Adventures: Legend of the Dark Hand
released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance
while Jackie Chan Adventures was released by Sony for the PlayStation 2
in Europe and China, with the United States release cancelled after the
intended publisher, Hip
Games, went bankrupt. The PS2 version was made compatible
with PlaySation’s EyeToy.