The Dinglehopper

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How to Do Action Comedy Like Jackie Chan

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Each semester I go through my Film class rosters by asking each student to tell me the best movie they’ve seen this year. Invariably, the hot choice will be the latest superhero action or action comedy flick. It’s not surprising–they’re 16-years-old, after all–and these are the films that entertain them. Still, I often smile outwardly at their picks and shake my head inwardly, trying to figure out how I might elevate their taste and expectations for “great” films.

I have, more than once, turned to the illuminating videos done by Tony Zhou for just this purpose. I especially love his video on Edgar Wright’s visual comedy. Now he’s done a video on how to do action comedy, and I can’t wait to show my students when Winter Break ends.

I first encountered Jackie Chan in Rumble in the Bronx in 1995. His martial artistry and kinetic choreography just blew me away. I hadn’t really dipped my toes yet into the martial arts movie waters, but I knew I wanted to see more of Jackie Chan. I went on to Drunken Master and Drunken Master 2, both of which are action comedy gold. But I still didn’t really know what I was looking at. Nearly 20 years later, Tony Zhou has put his finger on what makes Chan’s movies, especially the Hong Kong-produced ones, superior to the action comedies of Hollywood.

What interested me especially is Zhou’s discussion of editing in fight scenes and that in Chan’s martial arts films, he breaks continuity editing rules, doubling back on the action just a little bit so that each punch can be seen in full to be viscerally effective.

To see the films’ titles as Zhou talks about them, turn on the CC feature.




Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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