Jackie Chan's Fight Scene That Got Way Too Real
We could honestly spend all that talking about the life and legends of Jackie Chan. The man is a treasure (if we ignore his politics), and classic Hong Kong action cinema is always a good antidote to our CGI, shaky cam-addicted era of action movies. "But, Talbert," I hear you saying, "Don't you know the John Wick movies have brought back brutal, beautiful fight scenes?" Sure, the first two were cool, I guess, but you know what's really cool? The Jackie Chan fight scene that's always one step away from getting out of hand. Enjoy:
Wild, right? Chan's rival there is Benny' The Jet' Urquidez, and the scene comes from Wheels on Meals, a 1984 film directed by Sammo Hung and starring Chan, Hung, and their childhood friend from the Peking Opera School, Yuen Biao. Wheels on Meals is an action-comedy filmed in Barcelona, Spain, and apparently aimed at an international family audience, which is just stunning because the brutal character of the fight above is certainly not the sort of thing one finds in bland family fare. What's the deal, then? Well, allow us to repeat: Benny' the Jet' Urquidez.
You see, the main issue is that Urquidez is not a martial arts performer like Chan or Hung, who, don't get us wrong, can certainly fight (you can go ahead and tell them they're just performers – I wouldn't, though). The thing is that they are not, like, professional fighters. On the other hand, Benny Urquidez is a professional fighter whose record Wikipedia puts as "largely undefeated in his 27-year career." In other words, dude's a beast -- although we could do without the gross kissing sounds he threw at Mary Jane:
Benny apparently became friends with Jackie early on, who saw his talent and asked him to play a villain in some of his movies. The problem was that with no training as a performer, Urquidez didn't really know how to pretend to be a killing machine. The result is painful to watch, in the best possible sense.
So let's settle this immediately. Is the fight for real? Well, no. It's obvious there's choreography, editing, etc. It's not 'real' real. But it is a highly realistic fight scene in which both men are not really pulling their punches. In fact, as Chan and Urquidez tell it, they would joke about fighting for real since both acknowledged they had met their match. Moreover, Chan was really punching Urquidez in the face, whereas Urquidez was really kicking Chan in the body.
And you can tell. Even if there are plenty of camera tricks, cuts, rests, and pads to cushion the blows, it is a brutal fight scene, perhaps the most realistic in Chan's entire career. While watching, you can find plenty of instances to go, "That has to be real." (Like at that close-up of a punch around 4:36.)
Just compare it with the one that Chan and Urquidez, who apparently remain on good terms, made four years later. This is from 1988's Dragons Forever, and it's still awesome, but clearly not as realistic nor tense:
Also, here's a bonus: Urquidez' fight scene in the underrated John Cusack rom-com Grosse Pointe Blank:
Considering that John Cusack is still alive, it looks like The Jet got the pulling back hits thing figured out by then.
Top Image: Golden Harvest