Jackie Chan to Play Himself in Meta Action-Comedy à la Nicolas Cage
In his upcoming action-comedy Panda Plan, Jackie Chan will take a page out of Nicolas Cage’s book and play a fictionalized version of himself who gets caught up in an international crime crackdown — now I want to see what Cage’s Rush Hour arc would look like.
Last year’s critically praised but commercially tepid The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent saw, confusingly, one of Cage’s tamest roles in decades: himself. The actor known for his self-described “Western kabuki” style of performance toned down his exaggerated expressiveness to play a more grounded version of himself who got caught up in an international drug sting courtesy of a supercriminal superfan played by Pedro Pascal. The meta-comedy of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent may not have won the film many fans in the domestic or international box office, but could it possibly have made a creative impact on Chinese cinema?
Next week, the 69-year-old Chan will bring his newest project, Panda Plan, to the American Film Market in Los Angeles where he and his production team will seek a buyer for a possible North American release for the film. Panda Plan tells the story of a certain aging international movie star who is forced to get involved in the rescue mission of a baby panda kidnapped from a Chinese zoo. Hopefully, the sales pitch goes something like, “Imagine Taken meets The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, plus Jackie Chan plays with a panda cub.”
Panda Plan will be Chan’s follow-up project to last year’s Ride On, in which the kung fu comedy legend played a washed-up stuntman who is tasked with teaching a horse how to be a four-hooved film star. The formula of “Jackie Chan + action/comedy + animal sidekick” failed to make much of an impression on American audiences, but adding a “meta comedy” element into the equation may be the variable needed for Panda Plan to be a veritable seat-filler in the Land of the Free.
It will be interesting to see how Chan chooses to play himself — Cage’s self-effacing self-portrayal provided a necessary emotional mass to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, but the simple setup of a baby panda needing rescuing will probably be enough to provide pathos to Panda Plan. Perhaps we’ll see a similarly down-to-earth performance from Chan as he navigates the world of international animal trafficking. Or maybe he’ll just throw himself into an operational trash compactor or something similarly insane like he usually does.