How Drunken Master Completely Changed Jackie Chan’s Career

When Jackie Chan entered the film industry, Bruce Lee was the biggest star in the game. Chan served as one of Lee’s many stunt doubles, but he also fought for his own part, finally scoring a small role in “Enter the Dragon.” After Lee’s passing, Chan was scouted as a successor by director Lo Wei. Lo is credited for discovering both stars, but his long career only served to calcify his creative instincts. As far as he was concerned, Chan had no right to buck convention. He was just a young actor, and young actors in the industry did as they were told. Chan was frustrated by Lo’s conservatism. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, he said:

 “I had a different style to Bruce, my own style, so that wasn’t working, and I was looking to make a change.”

Chan was finally given the chance when Lo Wei loaned him to the production company Seasonal Films. There he had the opportunity to work with an up-and-coming young director, Yuen Woo-ping. Unlike Lo Wei, Yuen had no preconceptions as to what kind of star Chan should be, or even what movie they should make together. When Chan suggested a comedy, Yuen decided to go with it, and he roped in his father, Yuen Siu-tien, to serve as Chan’s mentor figure. The final result, Yuen’s directorial debut, was “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow.” Hong Kong audiences enjoyed the comedy, the martial arts, and Chan’s student-teacher relationship with Siu-tien in the film. So for their follow-up, Yuen and Chan decided to give their fans even more of what they wanted.

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