7 april, 1954
Apprenticed to the China Drama Academy (or "opera school") by his parents at the age of 6, Jackie Chan was rigorously trained in music, dance, and traditional martial arts. A visiting filmmaker offered Chan his first (tiny) role as a stunt player. Chan took the part, and soon left the Opera to pursue the world of film. Fellow Opera students Biao Yuen and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo would also have careers in film, and the three would star in several films together in the following years. Chan's talent and enthusiasm soon saw him taking larger and more important roles, graduating first to stunt coordinator, and then to director.
Following the death of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the search was on for an actor who could inspire audiences to the same degree; every young martial artist was given a chance. Chan decided that rather than emulating Lee (and thus living forever in his shadow), he would develop his own style of filmmaking. His directorial debut The Young Master (1980) was a milestone in martial arts films, being one of the first to effectively combine comedy with action. This set the tone for many of his future films, which combined slapstick humor with high-energy martial arts action. A self-confessed fan of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, Chan performs all his own stunts, quite often at his own peril. His later films include outtakes of his on-set injuries run under the closing credits. He is understandably number one on the insurance blacklist.