Step Aside Mario, Jackie Chan Teaching a Horse Kung-Fu Is China’s Biggest Box-Office Draw

Jackie Chan reins supreme, according to Chinese audiences
Step Aside Mario, Jackie Chan Teaching a Horse Kung-Fu Is China’s Biggest Box-Office Draw

It’s not just Illumination that’s making box-office hay out of a simple premise — and it’s certainly not Jackie Chan’s first rodeo.

Despite the record-breaking domestic opening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the Chinese market, a sought-after audience for such a Hollywood blockbuster, has chosen a different champion: Ride On, a film from the Hong Kong action-comedy legend, won this past weekend with its touching story of a horse that learns kung fu. Seriously.

Ride On stars Chan as a washed-up former stuntman who gets back in the saddle to teach a promising protege the tricks of the trade — that pupil being a stunt horse. Despite the naysayer critics of The New York Times, Ride On rode its domestic success to an American opening this past weekend, and the film is playing in select theaters across the country. Perhaps it will develop a colt following.

If you’re an American movie star, agreeing to co-star across from a trained animal is typically a sign that you’re pasture prime. However, Chan remains one of China’s most beloved leads, and his continued commercial success shows that he still has plenty of time in the spotlight before he hangs up his spurs. Plus, Ride On isn’t just a cash-in for Chan — the film explores the technique involved in stunt work and the realities of the trade behind-the-scenes, topics Chan knows awfoally well.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie might be the top film in the rest of the world, but Ride On is still hoofing it in the pole position over in China. Though American film studios continue to fight for a bigger share of China’s box office, we’ll never bet against Jackie Chan on his home turf — even as a dark horse, he’s still a stallion.

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