–Hello? This is Jackie speaking.
Hi my name is Tony andthis is Every Frame a Painting.
Some filmmakers can do action.
Others can do comedy.
But for 40 years, the master ofcombining them has been Jackie Chan.
These days, there's a lot of moviesthat combine funny scenes with fight scenes.
But even when the movie’s good the comedy and action seem to betwo directors and two different styles.
And that’s why Jackie’s so interesting.
In his style, action IS comedy.
And his work shows that the samefilmmaking principles apply whether you’re trying to be funnyor kick ass.
So let’s dive in.
If you’d like tosee the names of the films as I’m talking, press the CC button below.
Ready? Let’s go.
So how does Jackie createaction that is also funny? First off, he gives himselfa disadvantage.
No matter what film, Jackie alwaysstarts beneath his opponents.
He has no shoes.
He has a bomb in his mouth.
From this point, he has tofight his way back to the top.
Each action createsa logical reaction.
And by following the logic.
we get a joke.
In movies, this comedic stylegoes back to the silent clowns like Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton.
But I think Jackie has distilled itdown to one line of dialogue: –Please! I said I don't want trouble! Because he’s the underdog, Jackie has to get creative which brings us to point number two:he uses anything around him.
This is the most famousaspect of his style.
take something familiar, do something unfamiliar.
I’ve seen him fight with chairs dresses chopsticks keyboards Legos refrigerators and of course: Not only does this makeeach fight organic and grounded it also gives us jokes thatcouldn’t happen anywhere else.
Number 3: Jackie likes clarity.
He doesn’t do dark scenes whereeverything is color corrected blue.
If his opponent wears black, he wears white.
And if his opponent’s in white, then he’s stylin' His framing's so clear that in each shothe’s setting up the next bit of action.
Here, even though we’rewatching the stuntman, two-thirds of frame is the staircase.
A few seconds later, we see why He keeps things clear by rarelyusing handheld or dolly moves.
–Like American movies, there’s a lottamovement.
When the camera angle moves –that means the actors, they don’t know how to fight.
In slow-motion you can see how thecamera operator swings around to make the hits seem more violent.
But since Jackie CAN fight.
–I never move my camera.
–Let him see I jumping down, I do the flip, I do the fall When you shoot this way, everythinglooks more impressive because action and reaction arein the same frame.
Notice how you can always see Jackie, the car and the wall at the same time.
But a similar stunt from Rush Hour 3 never includes all the elements in thesame shot, and it doesn’t work.
The same principle applies to comedy.
This shot, directed by Sammo Hung, shows us the punch, the bad guy’s faceand Jackie’s face all in one.
Now check out the same gagin Shanghai Noon.
Here, action and reactionare separate shots.
It kinda works, but not nearly as well.
Why don’t more directors do this? Because of number 5:they don’t have enough time.
Jackie is perfectionist willing to do asmany takes as necessary to get it right And in Hong Kong, he’s supported by the studio which gives himmonths to shoot a fight.
–And the most difficult thing iswhen I throw the fan and it comes back.
More than 120 takes.
Those kind ofscenes, you say “Oh, Jackie's good.
” It's not good.
You can do it.
Exceptdo you have the patience or not? When I rewatch his work, these little things are the onesI’m most impressed by.
He doesn’t need to do them, and they eat into his budget.
But he still does thembecause he wants to.
And it’s that “going above and beyond”that I respect and admire.
–But in America, they don’t allow you to do that.
You know, because money.
And his American work ismissing something else: –And there’s a rhythm also, to the way that the shots are performed and also the way they’re edited, andJackie said something very interesting that the audience don’t know therhythm’s there until it’s NOT there.
Jackie’s fight scenes havea distinct musical rhythm, a timing he works outon set with the performers.
Stay where you are! Stay where you are, don't chase me.
See? Everybody looks good.
Even experienced martial artistshave trouble with it.
In his earliest films, you see himlearning the timing from Yuan Heping and it’s very much like Chinese opera.
But by the mid-1980s, working with his own stunt team He had something totally unique.
In America, many directors andeditors don’t understand this timing.
And they ruin it bycutting on every single hit.
By in Hong Kong, directorshold their shots long enough for the audience to feel the rhythm.
–The most important part is the editing.
Most directors, they don’t know how to edit.
Even the stunt coordinators, they don’t know how to edit.
Hong Kong directors like Jackieand Sammo cut a particular way.
In the first shot, you hityour opponent in the wide.
In the second shot, you get a nice close-up.
But when you cut the shots together, you DON'T match continuity.
At the end of shot 1, the elbow is here.
At the beginning of shot 2, it's all the way back here.
These 3 frames are for the audience’seyes to register the new shot.
And they make all the difference.
–I start from here, then here, But two shots, combined That's power.
In other words, show it TWICEand the audience's mind will make it one hit that’s stronger.
By contrast, modern American editingdoesn't show the hit at all.
At the end of shot 1, the leg is here.
At the beginning of shot 2, it’s inthe same place, going backwards.
But because they cut atthe exact frame of the hit it doesn’t feel like a hit.
A lot of people think this isbecause of the PG-13 rating but even R-rated films do this now It looks like a bunch ofpeople flailing around instead of a bunch ofpeople getting hurt.
Which brings us to number 8: pain.
Unlike a lot of action stars, who try to look invincible Jackie gets hurt.
Half the fun of his work is thatnot only are the stunts impressive There’s always room for a joke.
Pain humanizes him.
Becauseno matter how skilled he is He still gets smacked in the face.
In fact, Jackie’s face mayactually be his greatest asset Many times the look he givesis all it takes to sell a joke.
Like when he does an entire fightholding a chicken.
Or dressed as Chun-li And last, Jackie’s style always endswith a real payoff for the audience.
By fighting his way from the bottom, heearns the right to a spectacular finish.
He doesnt win cause hes a better fighterHe wins because he doesn’t give up This relentlessness makes his finalesreally impressive and really funny And it’s in direct contrast toa lot of his American work where bad guys are defeatedbecause someone shoots them COME ON.
But most of all, I thinkJackie’s style proves something: action and comedy aren’t that different.
In both genres, we wantto see our best performers And I think a lot of modernaction directors are failing completely.
These actors are skilled artists, some of the best in the world.
Why are the directors so unskilled? Why am I paying moneyto NOT see the action? –Whatever you do, do the best you canbecause the film lives forever.
“No, because that day it was rainingand the actor don't have time.
” I said, would you go to every theaterto tell the audience? No.
The audience sits in the theater:good movie, bad movie that’s all Exactly.
This work will last.
And on that note, I leave you with the greatest death scenein film history.