Growing up, I have been entranced by Jackie Chan films for their insane stunts, beautifully choreographed action sequences and hilarious physical comedy. His action scenes are both visually stunning and involving, playing underdog characters fighting against impossible odds. Chan’s dedication to his craft is unquestionable but perhaps he has not been given enough credit as an action director. In this video, filmmaker Tony Zhou breaks down the framing and editing techniques that Hong Kong directors use to create engaging fighting scenes, highlighting how many of these techniques are absent in Hollywood films of today. If you are interested in becoming a filmmaker, you need to watch this.
In this clip, Chan explains the importance of the static wide shot to establish rhythm and create clarity. It also enables the viewer to experience the action and reaction in the same shot, allowing the viewer to feel the movements. It is a refreshing break from the shaky cam gimmicks of popular directors like Brett Ratner, J.J. Abrams or Michael Bay. Though they have made fantastic films, their fast cutting techniques often mangle the action sequences and obfuscate the character’s movements, robbing viewers the full impact of some exciting scenes.
The rest of the video his highly entertaining to watch, reminding me why Jackie Chan is such a legend of martial arts cinema. It is an insightful analysis of why his films have been so entertaining and perhaps why his American movies have not quite hit the mark. Watch till the end for what Zhou labels “the greatest death scene in film history”.