69 Years Old Jackie Chan Pays Tribute to Stuntmen in His New Movie “Ride On”

By Maggie Ma

Directed by Yang Zi, starring Jackie Chan, Liu Haocun, and Guo Qilin, the movie “Ride On” was released in China and the United States on April 7. This day also happens to be Jackie Chan’s 69th birthday. The movie can be seen as a rewind of his 60 years of career doing dangerous and real stunts, at the same time pays tribute to the stuntmen who risked their lives in the film and television industry. This time,  Jackie Chan not only gave us awesome action scenes, but also endearingly portrayed a father who was facing aging and career struggles. The movie is a real tear jerker. Many Chinese audiences who watched it walked out of the theater with red eyes and tears on their faces.

image credit: WellGoUSA

Jackie Chan, who has been in the film industry for nearly 60 years, has shot more than 100 films so far. Although he has not retired, the number of films he made recently has been decreasing. This year’s”Ride On” can be seemed as a good review of his career. The character Master Luo, had a very similar life and career struggle like his own.

In the film, Master Luo, played by Jackie Chan, is a well-known stuntman. He is fearless, dedicated and likes to do real stunt instead of relying on CGI. But a work accident forced him to rest for a year and a half, and caused a career crisis. He lost his company, his wife and child. After he recovered, he chose to adopt a disabled pony, named Chi Tu.  In the process of training, Luo and the horse established a deep relationship like father and son. But In order not to lose the ownership of Chi Tu in the lawsuit, Lao Luo sought help from his daughter, whom he had neglected due to career and divorce, and re-established his relationship with her. During this process, he also gradually understood the value of family, let go of his stubbornness, and began to reconcile with himself.

Through the father-daughter story, Jackie Chan seems to be showing his own debt to his daughter. Jackie Chan’s daughter was once snubbed by Jackie Chan because she was a lesbian. He has been busy with his career for many years and often fails to fulfill his father’s responsibilities. He seems to be showing his regret and self-blame through this role. In the film, he shows a rare fragile and soft side, leading to a quite touching performance.

While the jobless stuntman and his disabled pony is the core of the story, the movie also pays tribute to all the stuntmen working in the industry: Even their job is really dangerous, they never hesitant to put themselves out there. It’s like Wu said in the film: “This is the life of a stuntman.” He felt that as a stuntman , taking a risk , even losing life is part of the job.  Jackie Chan has also injured constantly in his career, and his body is full of scars, but his dedication to work is admirable. In this film, the audience will see many clips of Jackie Chan ‘s past movies to remember his fearless spirits and dedication to his career. However, like the master Luo played by him, on one hand, he insists being real on action scenes, on the other hand, he has to face the fact that he is getting old and the development of the movie technologies no longer need his service. Jackie Chan is facing the similar situation himself at this moment.

It’s hard to ignore that the horse in the movie is a wonderful actor. Most of the scenes with the horse are quite touching. It brought out the emotion clearly to the screen even without any words.  Jackie explained in an interview that the horse now is retired and well taken care of in China unless if there is a sequel coming, they may need it again.

There are also many Celeb Cameos in the film, such as Yu Rong Guang, An Zhi Jie, Shi Yan Neng, and director Tang Ji Li. These are all old friends of Jackie Chan. The appearance of the popular action star Wu Jing is a big delight surprise. Wu Jing plays an action star younger who was taught and promoted by Master Luo. Just like in real life, Jackie Chan has gradually faded out of the film industry these years, and Wu Jing has become China’s new action movie superstar. But the heart warming interaction between the iconic figures of the two generations of Chinese Kung Fu movies is gratifying, and it also marks Jackie Chan’s recognition of the younger generation.

Wu Jing and Jackie Chan repeated this line many times in the film: “It’s easy to jump off the cliff, but hard to walk down the mountain.” Retirement is hard to accept, especially when you willingly step down. But people will always be replaced when they are old. The movie shows us that reconciliation with oneself, preparing the mentality and acceptance of reality are quite important in life.

After the film was released in North America, the box office was outstanding, and many shows were sold out. Many audiences are weeping in the theater. Audiences were remined by the movie about Jackie Chan’s passion and dedication for his career. Even he may retire soon, his spirits will live with his films forever.