Asian Air 


(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:56:25 PM)

n late July 2001 the world's two top martial arts stars announced a deal to co-produce and co-star in an action flick to be filmed in late 2002 for a 2003 release. The question naturally arises: what kind of movie could do justice to two such divergent types? Jackie Chan is a highly acrobatic clown who has built his following on a self-effacing counry bumpkin image. Jet Li is a deadly serious warrior who finds it easier to crack a man's neck than a smile.
     Now that both global megastars are releasing big-budget Hollywood films at a breakneck pace for seven-figure salaries, they are the most visible Asians in the American filmgoing consciousness. Whether we Asian Americans like it or not, our image is shaped more by the screen exploits and antics of these two broken-English speaking foreigners than by any dozen Asian American actors. In the filmgoing psyche the sober, chaste and deadly-efficient Chinese cop in Kiss of the Dragon is pitted against the nimble goofball in Rush Hour 2.
     Which Hong Kong star is better for the image of Asian Americans?

This interactive article is closed to new input.
Discussions posted during the past year remain available for browsing.

Asian American Videos

Films & Movies Channel

Humor Channel

Identity Channel

Vocals & Music Channel

Makeup & Hair Channel

Intercultural Channel


© 1996-2013 Asian Media Group Inc
No part of the contents of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission.


[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
Jet Li is a more accurate fighter than any other martial arts fighter in the world except Bruce Lee. Li is faster in his fighting style. But between them jet li would kick Jackie's ass.
Matt    Tuesday, March 11, 2003 at 11:16:12 (PST)    []
Jackie Chan is the best ! Jet Li cant compete with him...hell no. I've never seen Jet Li do any of Jackie's moves, even if Jackie is a clown as u people mentioned in this site. Jackie is way higher then Jet. Say a difference between the sky and the ground.
Rikimaru    Thursday, March 06, 2003 at 01:25:04 (PST)    []
I'm not asian, so maybe my vote doesn't count too much,
but I think both actors image is better for asian americans. See superstars of differing tastes and appeals helps some non asian americans get off the kick, "most asians are all alike, look alike, act alike...etc."
The more flavor's on screen the more growth happens offscreen !!!
Now, if only Stephen Chiau Sing Qi could make his entrance soon...
mike    Friday, February 21, 2003 at 19:40:10 (PST)    []
I say Jet Li only because he is so sexy. Jet Li has this cute persona and I really, really like him.
chyna doll    Friday, February 21, 2003 at 14:28:48 (PST)    []
I think jet li would be better because jackie chan is always doing the same things in every movie.
victoria    Friday, January 10, 2003 at 19:51:09 (PST)    []
"I would rather EVERY asian be a martial artists with a real skill, talent, philosophy to inspire others than a bland little hollywood BARBIE or KEN to show others how to look pretty."

I do see what you're saying. But that would simply rephrase my question to "why is martial-arts the ONLY skill that can popularize asians?" For the record, I too, am one who's against bland, superficial values and appreciate true values beyond the surface.

Perhaps this question of "image" goes beyond the movie industry? There are plenty of genuinely skillful asians out there, in all wakes of life and disciplines. But perhaps it is in their insistance to remain faceless and anonymous, that makes them true to their art or craft, not making it transparent nor tawdry. Perhaps seeking popularity from one's craft cheapens it, i.e. "going commercial"? "Acting", like many other art forms, IS a craft which requires an "audience". That would perhaps make it a poor gauge for the Asian American image?

Bruce Lee once said that the "ultimate style" of martial-arts was one "without style". In a similar vein, then perhaps the "ultimate image" is one "without image", neh? If that's so, let's forget about Jet or Jackie ... just look in the mirror for a better image for Asian Americans. :)
AAgal    Wednesday, January 01, 2003 at 22:26:14 (PST)    []
I know this is getting old! But I still think Jet Li will beat Jackie Chan. Anytime, Anywhere. I'm sick and Tired of people saying that Jet Li Can't fight beacause He took Wushu and wushu is just for preformance. Uhhhh... wake up!you idiots. Jet Li Takes the traditional chinese Whusu which includes Wing Chun, Tai Chi, Pa Kua, Five animals of Shaolin(Dragon,Snake,Eagle,Tigger,mantus) and much more. The New Wushu is for preformance, not the traditional one. On the other hand, look at Jackie Chan.. oh wow! puch a guy two times, throw a chair and your run away. Come back to a flip for no reason. What the heck is that. In Conclusion Jet Li is the best.
Klement    Wednesday, January 01, 2003 at 21:45:35 (PST)    []
I dont know AAgal, but I dont really care how many lucy lui types there are out there, like I said in my message I am not interested in the bland acceptance of the majority or to be liked or accepted BECAUSE OF MY RACE? yoko ono has nothing to say, lucy lui acts in hollywood movies / tv shows, what can that offer except to display an asian face on screen??? I would rather EVERY asian be a martial artists with a real skill, talent, philosophy to inspire others than a bland little hollywood BARBIE or KEN to show others how to look pretty and be as deep as the provebial "valley girl" thanks to asians on screen for the sake of asians on screen, rather for a reason, yes please! leave hollywood and T.V. to the brats with the desire for fame and fortune and empty heads and also empty lives.
colin s.    Tuesday, December 24, 2002 at 05:58:53 (PST)    []
".... who can say who is the best for the asian influence, that is a very western question. no?"

That's a pretty clever, yet insightful comment. A bit philosophical in nature too, but it could also be an over-generalization as well, since asians can be (and in many cases ARE even more-so) more superficial than
westerners. Not EVERYONE in Asia reads Confucius, you know! All cultures have both ends of this spectrum in all facets of culture, particulary in the Arts.

IMHO, one of the main issues with the Asian image, is breaking away from the "martial arts" stigma. Don't know what I mean? Then name just ONE "asian superstar" widely known in the west who has nothing to do with martial arts? Tough, isn't it? I can name Yao Ming, Paul Kariya, Michael Chang, Yoko Ono, Lucy Liu, Margaret Cho, James Iha, Yoyo Ma, members of Linkin Park, to name a few, but none can (yet?) be considered "superstars" who can be widely identified by the mainstream mass-media, comparable to Jet Li or Jackie Chan, nor to the iconic Bruce Lee.

I have rarely (actually have NEVER) met a non-asian who is turned-on by asian culture (ie. has "yellow fever"), but who bears no interest whatsoever in the martial arts (maybe that's just me tho). Being an AA, that's still very flattering, though just slightly disappointing.

Martial arts was the transcending vehicle used to promote Asian culture in the sixties and seventies by Bruce Lee and his successors, but why is it still necessarily the only(?) thing that can do this today?
AAgal    Saturday, December 21, 2002 at 22:10:27 (PST)    []
jackie real
jets not
wake up
mark    Tuesday, December 17, 2002 at 07:11:26 (PST)    []
It's amazing, a generation that was born way after the sensation and the interest bruce lee stirred in kung fu movies, sound as if they are just as compelled and impressed by the cat like movements of the original modern day, silverscreen master! I was very young when all the stirrings of this little dragon began and can still see this effect in the very young kids now, I'm glad bruce turned his back on the racism of 60's u.s.a and continued to try and create in his words a "chinese hero" Bruce lee's motivation and storylines in the movies he helped direct and write as well as star all had the same theme, the martial artists uses his skill for the good of the down-trodden. The exploited worker, or the honest struggling resturant owner, all was the creation of a positive, honest, strong "hero" the first asian (chinese) person to be admired as such in all races. Bruce lee sent black, white, asian and everyone else to their local martial art school all over the world and in turn they learned asian history, philosophy, religion and with lee's ethos of "no set style" and "no form" people entered into karate, kick boxing every school of martial arts - japanese, chinese, thai etc etc. after the bruce lee movies in the 70's the black community in harlem and else-where in new york state studied karate to defend themselves against the well documented assults of the local police force, this tactic was so sucessful that it was banned in new york for some time. That is a positive role model and image being an inspiration to the person who needed the technic to defend oneself!! I am very glad he has inspired people like Jet li and Jacki chan who have each choosen a style to continue this positive "chinese hero" both have inspired in turn their own audience to do "their" best and not compare oneself to anyone or aspire for great wealth or huge material gain which in my view almost all u.s movies do. Li and Chan will inspire the next generation of martial artists and their screen heros too. All will continue and in turn pass on their knowledge and skill and inspire discipline, I hope they continue to do most of their movies in china/hong kong because the influence of u.s. made movies does not inspire these trates in asian youth.....they inspire desire for wealth, the bland EXCEPTANCE OF THE MAJORITY, dull stories of violence for the sake of violence and no cultural significance what-so-ever..............who can say who is the best for the asian influence, that is a very western question. no?
colin s.    Monday, December 16, 2002 at 04:20:40 (PST)    []
the Hong Kong star who is best for the image of Asian Americans is JET LI
aamir    Saturday, December 14, 2002 at 23:24:44 (PST)    []
Re: the question of "Which Hong Kong star is better for the image of AAs?"

I think the fact that both are well-known and respected in the field of moviemaking is a huge boon for Asians in general and AAs in particular. That they have contrasting styles is good because it puts in the mind of non-Asian Americans that AAs are individuals and can be very different from one another, as Li and Chan are.

However, I still think that both these men are pretty one-dimensional. Jet Li is basically an Asian Steven Seagal - a total badass who would be laughably out of place in any movie where he wasn't kicking somebody's ass or emptying clips from an Uzi out a car window or something like that. Jackie Chan is a lot like an Asian Mike Myers - a goofball who wouldn't fare well in a serious drama or any movie where his comedic talents weren't called for.

What we need are several AA actors who can display a range of roles and be equally successful and believable whether playing a role in a moving drama, a fast-paced thriller, or a slapstick comedy.

Well, maybe that's asking too much - heck, most WHITE actors don't have that range (or aren't given the chance once they're typecasted), so it probably won't happen on the AA front, either.
"B" as in "bictory"    Thursday, December 12, 2002 at 23:29:39 (PST)    []
After Hero and Cradle to the Grave hit our screens, Jet Li will partner up with highly respected Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman in an action thriller 'Danny the Dog'. Should be a corker.

Jet Li or Jackie Chan. Jet Li is a real martial artist compared to Chan the stuntman. Li would kill him, he is far more in depth. Li is the man, Chan is just a clown who makes people laugh.
Jet Li Rules    Wednesday, December 11, 2002 at 12:44:52 (PST)    []
yo yo yo..i think my boy jet li got everythin on jackie chan...he's quick..still young..he's atleast serious about his werk and not to make everything fun..cuz in real life would u b happy dat ur gettin ur ass beat up..i wouldnt think u would b...and he is juss plain betta den chan..he might not b betta den bruce lee..cuz he b da best of all..but come on..he won tournuments when he was a kid...chan haven won anything..and it dont matta where dey come from...and even tho chan does his own stunts..well jet li is still better cuz atleast he smart enuff to know dat he aint gonna do something krazy that kould kill himself...i bet he could do dat if he had to...he aint gonna act like no white boy from jackass...not to b racial or anything but it b tru...and jet li is way better den chan..
ken aka ecko    Tuesday, December 10, 2002 at 20:10:42 (PST)    []
That crapola of a movie Black Mask also shows how much of a biter Li is. It had "Kato" written all over it. To think, given more than 30 years after the original cheezy sixties Green hornet, they still cant get it right! That's sad! Someone whos a role model to others should definitely have their own original image and style and not steal from anothers. It's one thing to be "inspired", but another to totally "copy". and its been mentioned before, but its just plain stupid to judge these "actors" by how tough they are. its like coming out of the theatre after watching Rocky and thinking Stallone is the best boxer ever. lots of people who can't distinguish between movie fighting and real fighting who get mystified by movie fights believe that the "actors" are really doing real fighting in the movies, where in reality all the fights have really been staged. If you ask me, none of these guys really make good role models for Asian Americans. Why would anyone look up to a guy (or girl) who is good at clubbing someone else in the head?
Krusty Girl    Sunday, December 08, 2002 at 15:30:24 (PST)    []
damn, that artist person pretty much hit the nail on the head regarding bruce lee. i'm actually pretty young myself born after 1980 after the bruce lee hype era but i know the history of martial arts and film cuz my older brothers were into that kung fu and karate shit and i've also studied film, so i appreciate all the little subtleties and nuances in cinema. i wanna add to the artist's arguments on bruce lee ......

first off, understand the time frame that these actors are working in:

bruce lee's prime was the 60s. he was badly hit by racism, especially in the film industry. everyone knows that. by overcoming such great adversity, it makes his story even more profound. he was the first asian hero who took no s*** from nobody! he died when he was only 32. the old thought of how much more he could have done if he hadn't died has crossed everyone's minds and was best expressed by his son brandon who pointed out in an interview that enter the dragon was not an "end" in his father's career, but was infact really a "beginning". by realizing this, it really accentuates how tragic his death really was.

jackie chan ... i admire much more than jet li. after lee's death in 73, there was a huge surgence of bruce lee imitators, and believe it or not chan was one of them. but he eventually broke that mould by the early 80s by developing his own brand of slapstick kungfu. as the artist mentioned below, chan wasn't really truly embraced by the west until rumble in the bronx in 90. that's rather unfortunate, considering chan's great creativity and originality but at least he finally pulled through!

jet li ... ok, does a remake of chinese connection (fist of legend) ... ok ... making a tribute to a great predecessor ... but now is pursuing a green hornet remake? one word ... BITER!

in real life, lee could really fight and had proven it on several occasions. as to how good he really is, or whether he was the best, nobody will really ever know but he's definitely a lot better than average. both li and chan have given high praises in several interviews to the vast speed and power of bruce lee's physical abilities and kungfu. and yeah, like the artist i've seen some amazing shit done by really good martial artists in my time, but ive seen very few who are as lightning fast and precise as lee (without special effects and film speed up)! if bruce looks like he could kick major ass, its because he could. if he doesn't win he'll at least have inflicted some major damage. he was definitely the real deal!

given these facts, its apparent bruce lee was way ahead of his time as a martial artist, actor and inspiration to all asians, specially those living in the west. biters copy bruce's stys..... bruce bites NOBODY!

and lets not forgot lee's magnetism and screen presence. you just can't take your eyes off of him when bruce lee pops onto the screen. every little yell or gesture he makes with his body or face always just perfectly accentuates the moment especially during combat scenes. who ever thought silly bird noises could be so cool?! da man definitely had original style! he makes jet li seem like a total stiff. just compare chinese connection with fist of legend (the remake), and see how much more you empathize for lee's rendition of chen, than li's.

having studied film and film techniques like the artist below i'm not too impressed by the larger-than-life overly-done fight sequences prevalent in today's martial art flicks and special effects don't at all fool me and i can spot them a mile away. all martial art films suk by nature, thats a given (well, except for the classic hong kong kung fu series of the early 80s which actually had a story but thats just my little ol opinion) but when i look back at bruce lee films, and understand when they were made in another time and era these films were really great for their time and when viewed today they still carry a "classic" aura to them. i don't see how the martial art films made today will be remembered in quite the same way. they'll probably be forgotten in 10 years, let alone 5.

long live bruce! you're the original! youDAman!
part simpson    Friday, December 06, 2002 at 20:38:10 (PST)    []