Jackie Chan

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Jackie Chan is famous for doing his own stunts.

The Hong Kong native, whose six-decades-long career has included more than 150 movies, was considered the heir apparent to Bruce Lee when the legendary Kung Fu master died at the height of his fame in 1973.  Film studios expected that Chan’s own brilliance would quickly transform him into a star.   

But as Jackie explains in his autobiography Never Grow Up, martial arts fans concluded that he was no Bruce Lee.

Chan would sit in the back of darkened theaters, eavesdropping on the comments of film reviewers.  “Nobody wants to see that face.  His nose is too fat.  His eyes are too close together.”  He frequently wept.

That’s when he decided to go his own way.

Bruce Lee, who looked like a chiseled Olympian god, never lost a fight on the silver screen.  Chan decided he would play the role of Everyman – the guy who routinely finds himself in serious trouble, gets thoroughly beaten up, and survives only because of audacious creativity and risk-taking. 

That meant taking movie stunts to a whole new level.

Chan had entered the film industry as a nameless, faceless stunt performer.  Early on he decided he would never ask a fellow cast member to do anything he himself wasn’t willing to do.  His refusal to use body doubles, combined with his eagerness to perform outrageous feats without special effects, “is what separates me from everyone else.” 

Because of that commitment he quickly won the hearts of millions of devoted fans – and consequently puts himself in harm’s way on a regular basis.   

In the movie Project A, for instance, he decided to dangle from the hand of a clock on a three-story-high tower.  Chan reports that the look of terror you see on his face in the picture above was entirely genuine.  He hung on as long as he could, then fell to the ground, his momentum broken only by a pair of thin awnings.  Observers seriously wondered if he could avoid major injury.  Not wholly satisfied with his effort, he took the fall two more times – the last time injuring his spine. 

Chan once jumped from the top of a moving bus through a second-story plate glass window in a nearby building.  But he missed the window equipped with the special “Hollywood glass” and crashed through a real window instead.

From head to toe, “every inch of my body has been wounded.”  He has suffered permanent hearing loss; compromised the sight in one eye; experienced second degree burns by sliding down a tall metal pole in a shopping mall; dislocated his pelvis; been clipped by a moving helicopter blade; needed emergency brain surgery after a tree branch broke, dropping him headfirst onto a rock.  On one occasion he tore his lip so badly that his teeth were visible.  He superglued his lips back together and resumed filming. 

Jackie remembers the time he met Steven Spielberg, one of his idols.

How did the famous director make ET and all those Jurassic Park dinosaurs look so real?  “Oh, that’s simple,” said Spielberg.  “I just keep pushing buttons,” referring to computer-generated effects.  Spielberg then asked, “What about your films?  How did you do all those dangerous stunts, jumping off roofs and over cliffs?”  Jackie answered, “Oh, that’s even simpler.  It’s just ‘Rolling. Action!’ Jump. ‘Cut!’ Hospital.” 

Jackie Chan is famous for doing his own stunts.

So is Jesus.

Make no mistake: there were voices in the early Church who were certain that just couldn’t be true. 

Some of the authors of a strange collection of ancient documents called the Pseudepigrapha (a word that almost literally means “fake news”) suggested that the Heavenly Jesus – as they saw it, the Real Jesus – retreated into heaven, leaving behind the fragile body of the Earthly Jesus to be tortured and crucified.  The Son of God, in other words, had a stunt double.  The Real Jesus didn’t have to bleed, scream in pain, or die.  Jesus was too pure and too good to descend into the muck of mire of fallen humanity.  His job was to keep his eye on the world from a safe distance in the balcony of heaven.    

That’s not how the New Testament authors saw it, however.  “While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow…” (Hebrews 5:7) 

Global religions are famous for advertising escape plans from planet earth.  Sometimes even Christians fall into this trap.  Surely Jesus wants to get me out of this mess so I can join him in a better place.

But Jesus thought it was crucial to experience our hurts, address our fears, and personally face the reality of this world’s injustice.

Does such a thing really matter?   

It does – every time we remember that on the cross he took the sting out the worst things we will ever experience, including death itself.   

That’s what separates him from every other Savior.