Centrefold: Goldfinger comes to town: Jackie Chan screenings at the NFT's 'Hong Kong action'

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The pre-PC Peter Sellers/Burt Kwouk Pink Panther exchanges first introduced the conventions of martial arts cinema to non-martial arts audiences: those extended mid-air jousts, the protracted, baritone howl that is a karate squeal deepened by slow-motion. Now this loopy genre is celebrated in the NFT's 'Hong Kong Action' season comprising 14 movies, four of which were touched by the golden karate-chop of the one-man movie industry that is Jackie Chan.

For such a star, his principles are unshakable - Hollywood beckoned with a role in Black Rain but Chan declined: 'How can I be the bad Japanese guy? Asian people would kill me]'. He totters between being an elfin Keystone Kop and a chilled-out Bruce Lee, though comparisons to the latter are, he claims, inaccurate: 'I'm always a soft person, the underdog'.

That may be true but it's the stunts that draw the crowds, and Chan does his own; consequently, he can now barely walk before noon. The season boasts two examples of Chan's smash-hit Police Story series, whose most surreal moments will have jaws hitting the floor. Other delights include Magic Cop, where ancient ghosts mingle with drug dealers, and Heroic Trio (see picture), which embodies the genre's predilection for strong female leads: three super-heroes (two of whose monikers - Wonder Woman and The Invisible Girl - could land them in court against DC Comics' supremo, Stan Lee) battle a supernatural baby-snatcher. No, it's not Shakespeare, but at least it's not Monkey either.

1-15 June, National Film Theatre, South Bank, SE1 (071-928 3232) Waterloo/Embankment tubes.

(Photograph omitted)

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