The action comedy genre is a competitive landscape, but there is one man who reigns supreme among the combat jesters of the entertainment world. That man, of course, is Jackie Chan. The Hong Kong native birthed the comedic martial arts genre and is now one of the highest-paid actors in the world.
There are only a handful of actors who have done more for the martial arts film genre than Jackie Chan, and his legacy is one that we’ll remember and talk about not for years but for decades to come.
Top 20 Jackie Chan movies of all time
20. Police Story (1985)
Upon the release of Police Story, Jackie Chan had already established himself as a significant sensation in Asia. However, this action-packed comedy truly propelled him to international stardom.
In this film, Chan plays the role of police officer Chan Ka-Kui, whose honorable character is tested as he must defend the girlfriend of a high-ranking Triad leader.
With plenty of drama and insane fights (the mall sequence comes to mind), there’s a reason Police Story spawned multiple sequels and further propelled its star to the top of the genre.
19. Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996)
In 1996, the world was treated to Jackie Chan’s explosive action thriller, First Strike (also known as Police Story 4: First Strike). In this adrenaline-fueled film, Chan portrays the tenacious Jackie, a top-notch cop who teams up with the CIA to take down an arms smuggler.
But as their mission progresses, Jackie uncovers a devious scheme by a notorious terrorist who will stop at nothing to acquire a nuclear weapon for his gain in the cutthroat world of business.
The mention of Jackie Chan instantly evokes the image of unforgettable action sequences, and the ladder fight in First Strike certainly ranks at the top of the list.
18. The Foreigner (2017)
The 2017 action thriller The Foreigner sees Chan take on a much different role as Ngoc Minh Quan, a mild-mannered restauranteur who goes down a dark path of revenge after his daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing in London.
Dark, brooding, and filled with explosive sequences and great pain, The Foreigner isn’t your typical Chan movie and lacks his signature comedic style, which can be refreshing.
17. Crime Story (1993)
In contrast to many of Jackie Chan’s popular 80s and 90s films, Crime Story (1993) takes a more dramatic approach with minimal humor.
Drawing inspiration from a real-life kidnapping in 1990, the crime thriller centers on Eddie Chan (played by Jackie Chan), a determined police detective on a mission to capture the perpetrators behind the abduction of businessman Wong Yat-fei (portrayed by Law Kar-Ying).
16. Bleeding Steel (2017)
Although Chan may not be taking on as many physically challenging roles, he consistently delivers extraordinary performances when called upon.
Bleeding Steel, a Chinese science fiction film with cyberpunk elements, showcases Chan as a special agent in Hong Kong. With its eccentric plot and numerous twists, Chan reveals his continued ability to captivate audiences, even at an age where retirement is a valid option.
While the role demands physical stamina, Chan masterfully infuses it with emotion and humor, elevating the film to something exceptional.
15. Supercop (1992)
Get ready to be blown away by the epic 1992 Hong Kong action flick Supercop (aka Police Story 3: Super Cop), as Jackie Chan reprises his role as Chan Ka-Kui. In this installment, Chan goes undercover in a Chinese prison to take down a notorious drug cartel.
But that’s not all – brace yourself for some mind-blowing fight scenes as Chan’s character unleashes his badass skills.
And don’t forget about the impeccable choreography by Michelle Yeoh as Interpol Inspector Yang Chien-Hua, long before she became a household name in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Crazy Rich Asians.
14. The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
After over ten years since his iconic turn as the Drunken Master, Chan returned to the role in The Legend of Drunken Master (also known as Drunken Master II). Portraying a well-intentioned but alcohol-prone character, Chan’s performance is reminiscent of the original film.
When Wong Fei-hung and his comrades unravel a devious scheme concocted by a British consul to pilfer treasured Chinese artifacts, Chan’s character must break his promise to his father and embrace the title of Drunken Master.
This loud and action-packed spectacle is considered a pinnacle of action cinema more than lives up to its revered reputation.
13. Shanghai Noon (2000)
Following his hit film Rush Hour, Jackie Chan joined forces with Owen Wilson for the comedic adventure Shanghai Noon. In this film, Chan plays imperial guard Chon Wang who travels to the American West to rescue Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) with the aid of cowboy Roy O’Bannon (Wilson).
Like their previous buddy flick, Shanghai Noon spawned a sequel, Shanghai Knights, yet a third installment in the franchise never came to fruition.
12. Jackie Chan’s Project A (1983)
In the vibrant setting of 19th-century Hong Kong, Jackie Chan delivers a thrilling performance as Dragon Ma.
He plays a skilled marine who joins forces with a navy admiral, a police captain, and a cunning thief in a daring mission to confront a treacherous band of pirates aided by corrupt government figures.
As a pivotal foundation for Jackie Chan’s jaw-dropping stunts in the future, Project A showcases one of his most audacious feats yet: the legendary clock tower descent with just two awnings as his sole defense.
11. Operation Condor (1991)
In a riveting follow-up to Armour of God, the high-octane 1991 action flick Operation Condor had audiences on the edge of their seats.
This sequel, which came five years after a dangerous stunt nearly took the lead actor’s life, follows the daring Asian Hawk (played by the incomparable Jackie Chan) as he embarks on a top-secret mission to the desolate Sahara Desert.
His mission? To retrieve stolen Nazi gold before it falls into the wrong hands.
The film’s adrenaline-fueled car chases are so unbelievable that even the fearless Xander Cage would be stunned. With some of Chan’s most jaw-dropping fight scenes to date, this thrilling chapter in his filmography is not one to miss.
10. Wheels on Meals (1984)
The 1984 martial arts comedy Wheels on Meals follows cousins Thomas (Chan) and David (Yuen Biao), who go from bumbling cooks/business people with a mobile restaurant to reluctant heroes.
The brothers are left with no other choice but to rescue a young pickpocket who a violent gang has kidnapped.
With humorous elements and plenty of great fight scenes, this Jackie Chan comedy is one of the best movies on Amazon Prime.
9. Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
Jackie Chan takes on the role of Jackie, a talented chef on TV who gets caught up in chaos in Mr. Nice Guy. While simply making his way home from the market, Jackie comes to the rescue of a journalist investigating a dangerous plot.
As an expert in cooking and combat, Jackie finds himself again facing off against evil forces. The high-energy fight scene showcases some of Chan’s top-notch skills, with him cleverly fending off attacks while pretending to be clueless.
This action-packed film was once a top pick on Netflix and is hoped to return to the streaming platform soon.
8. Who Am I? (1998)
Jackie Chan’s outstanding work ethic is evident in the fact that he not only starred in a blockbuster hit with Chris Tucker but also took on the roles of writer and director for Who Am I?
It’s fitting that the movie is named after its protagonist, a special forces operative who endures amnesia when his plane crashes in the South African jungle. Jackie’s multitasking skills are awe-inspiring.
Who Am I? allowed Jackie to show off everything in his talent arsenal. He wasn’t just a loveable kung fu hero but a character with layers and emotion. The responsibility of directing did nothing to slow down Chan’s lust for death-defying action sequences.
7. The Lego Ninja Movie (2017)
Considering Jackie Chan’s advanced age, several of his most recent roles have seen him appear in animated films, using his iconic voice, without requiring him to perform intensive physical routines.
The Lego Ninjago Movie did this when it cast Chan as the wise old martial arts master, Master Wu.
The film also employed a narrative framing device with an old shopkeeper telling a young boy the legendary story of Ninjago, which is the second role that Chan appears in for the film. Both roles make great use of his iconic comedy skills.
6. Dragons Forever (1988)
In this film, Chan takes on the role of a passionate lawyer drawn to a woman on the opposing side of a high-stakes case.
As he works on the lawsuit against a chemical plant that has contaminated a local fishery, he becomes infatuated with the fishery owner’s cousin.
In a twist of events, Chan enlists the help of his friends (played by Sammo Hung and Biao Yuen) to gather intel on the fishery owner, leading to a series of comical mishaps.
While there is undoubtedly some impressive kung-fu action in this movie, it also brings a refreshing dose of comedic relief to the genre.
The plot can sometimes verge on the absurd, but it all adds to the overall charm and entertainment value. One particularly standout scene takes place on a lavish yacht, with director Hung using clever low-angle shots to intensify the fight sequence.
5. Shaolin (2011)
Shaolin is a gripping tale of transformation and development following the downfall of a ruthless warlord who undergoes a sobering realization of his past wrongdoings.
Within this plot, Chan’s character portrays a humble cook residing within a serene Shaolin Temple.
Despite his minor role in the film, Chan infuses his performance with profound emotion, unwavering warmth, and heartfelt kindness, elevating his character to a remarkable level that refuses to be overlooked.
Without a doubt, Chan’s presence adds immeasurable value to the entire cinematic experience.
4. The Karate Kid (2010)
It’s kung fu, not karate, in the remake of the 1984 classic. In this, Chan fills the trainer role filled by Pat Morita in the original. Jaden Smith plays Dre, a kid from Detroit who moves to China when his mom (Taraji P. Henson) is transferred there for work.
Early on, a kid named Cheng bullies him, and Chan is interested in training him in kung fu. Like in the original, Dre prepares to compete in a tournament, where Cheng figures as his opponent. Chan doesn’t fight much here, but this is an excellent chance to see Chan’s dramatic chops.
3. Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
Rumble in the Bronx began a series of Jackie Chan’s releases from Hong Kong that would catapult him to fame in the United States, paving the way for his blockbuster hit Rush Hour.
Despite its title, this movie was filmed in Vancouver, but don’t be fooled – there are plenty of intense fight scenes throughout! In one particular scene, Chan finds himself in the hideout of a motorcycle gang and quickly utilizes every household appliance at his disposal.
From using refrigerators as weapons to taking cover inside one and even shoving an opponent into a fridge to get him out of the way, Chan’s resourcefulness knows no bounds.
He even goes the extra mile, opening and delivering a punch to his opponent before closing the fridge door again.
2. Drunken Master (1978)
Drunken Master, which premiered in 1978, showcases Chan as the playful Wong Fei-hung (known as Freddy Wong in English adaptations), the son of a strict martial arts instructor.
Wong’s mischievous nature and lack of consideration for others leads his father to enlist the help of the infamous Beggar So (played by Yuen Siu-Tin), a renowned martial artist with a reputation for breaking his students.
Guided by his unorthodox training methods, Wong must use his unique interpretation of the Drunken Master’s style to defeat a series of over-the-top villains, including Yim Tit-sam (portrayed by Hwang Jang-lee).
This comedic kung fu masterpiece was a turning point for Chan’s career, launching him to even greater success in the late 1970s.
1. Rush Hour (1998)
Personally, my favorite Jackie Chan movie of all time. The film was hilarious and engaging and had us engrossed till the end.
With the release of Rush Hour in 1998, Chan’s status skyrocketed from a respected action star to a global sensation practically overnight.
This movie sensation features Chan and Chris Tucker as Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee, who is brought to Los Angeles to assist in the rescue of a Chinese diplomat’s daughter.
It’s no wonder I watched this film twice in one week – it perfectly captures the essence of a classic buddy cop action film, with a dynamic between the stars, a playful spin on Chan’s iconic fighting techniques, and unforgettable one-liners from the talented actor.