Jackie Chan opens up on The Karate Kid, the much-awaited martial arts film that hits the screens today

Work causes a single mom to move to China with her young son (Jaden Smith). In his new home, the boy embraces kung fu, taught to him by a master, played by none other than Jackie Chan. In an interview, the star of several action flicks talks about the making of the much-hyped martial arts film, injuries while shooting stunt sequences and his upcoming projects. Excerpts:

When you are on a film set, how much do you train each day?

If I am in a fight scene, I stretch and then practise the choreography until it looks right. Sometimes this takes 10 minutes and sometimes a few hours. It all depends on the kind of fighting I have to do. When I leave work, I try and work out for an hour or two. I avoid elevators and walk up the stairs to get additional exercise. Sometimes after dinner, I like to go for a walk to work off my meal.

How much do you train each day when you are in between films?

I don't train much in between films but exercise as often as I can. Exercise is good for the mind and the body.

Do you choreograph all the stunts yourself?

My stunt co-coordinator, Wu Gang, and my stunt team help choreograph the fight scenes in the film. I give my inputs to make sure each fight looks better and more powerful.

Are your martial arts skills improving?

Anybody who continues to train will get better, so I do believe that my martial arts skills have improved with time.

Jaden has said you were always making him and the crew laugh. Is humour part of the way you bond with people?

I like to have fun on the set. There is a lot of pressure when you make a film and laughing is one way of getting some relief. Jaden is like me. I've always seen him playing and joking on the set. I think that's something he's picked up from his parents.

Did you sustain any injuries during the filming of The Karate Kid?

I got a few bumps and bruises but no major injuries. Sometimes old injuries will cause pain here and there during a fight. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about it. I have broken too many bones and pulled too many muscles not to feel a bit of pain once in a while.

What's the worst injury you have suffered while making a film?

The worst injury I have ever suffered was in Yugoslavia during the filming of Armour of God. I cracked my skull and had to be airlifted to the hospital. What scared me the most wasn't my pain; it was the expressions on the faces of the people around me. Based on their reaction, I knew my injury was life-threatening. To this day, there is a piece of metal in my head and a little hole in my skull.

Did you take Jaden and his family to any of the sights while they were in China?

We had a very tight schedule so there was little free time. Even when we were not filming during the week, we had rehearsals on weekends. All of us spent a lot of time together at some of the famous locations in China such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Olympic Village and Wu Dang Mountain, the birthplace of Tai Chi and Taoism.

Does the film have a message?

I think our film has many messages. People should respect each other and themselves. They must learn to overcome obstacles. We must all embrace new experiences and people in our lives. Despite a traumatic experience in a person's life, he must learn to deal with it so he can move on. Kung fu (martial arts) is a great way for people to learn discipline and focus, and become empowered. It is important to have morals in life.

What's next?

I am getting ready to direct and star in a film called The Chinese Zodiac. I'm yet to decide on the locations, the cast and other details. It's going to be challenging, as it's so much work to be both in front of and behind the camera. It has been a long time since I have directed.

The Karate Kid releases today. It will also be dubbed into Tamil.


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