If someone is like me, unless there are two me the world does not have a second Jackie Chan. Yet Jackie Chan has been someone else's me. He once tried his luck with the name Yuen Long but without any success. Finally he knew that in order to succeed in the film industry he had to make a name for himself.
Jackie Chan was originally named Chan Kong Sun, family name Fong Si Lung. Reportedly he was the descendant of the famous Tang Dynasty official Fang Xuanling. During the Seven Little Fortunes era, Master Yu Jim Yuen named him Yuen Lau. When eldest brother Sammo Hung Kam Bo's apprenticeship ended and gave up the name of Yuen Lung, Jackie Chan took the name to make something of it.
Years In The Business, Once Play Dead
Jackie Chan said, "When I made movies I used the name Yuen Long. I saw Hung Kam Bo didn't use it so I used it. At the time I was still young. (Corey) Yuen Kwai was assistant director under Tsui Siu Ming. Yuen Biao developed better than me. I too made POLICE WOMAN (NUI GAING CHAT) and EAGLE SHADOW FIST (DING TIN LAP DEI), but I wasn't the lead."
Back then Jackie Chan played small roles at Shaw's. Soon Bruce Lee passed away and martial art film box office was severely impacted and reduced production. His career ran into its first obstacle.
Jackie Chan recalls, "I was in the film industry for several years, from corpse, minor stuntman to lead then back to stuntman, and action director. I became less and less interested in film, so I returned to Australia to rest a little. One day, I received director Lo Wei's call to tell him to come back and make NEW FIST OF FURY (SUN JING MO MOON). Because of this film I changed my name."
After returning to Hong Kong, Lo Wei felt Yuen Lung did not sound like a good stage name and asked what kind of name Jackie Chan wanted. The brain trust after long consideration still could not come to an agreement, as they lingered on several names.
Jackie Chan says, "Siu Lung was dead so the name was unlucky, Dai Lung didn't sound good at all. I liked Zhao Zilong, but they said Zilong represented very small and turned it down. I also liked Yunlong, they said it would be hard to find. Later someone told me to use the name Sing Lung, I thought I would more likely become a bug than a dragon. At first I didn't dare to use this name but I didn't have a choice."
Snake In Eagle's Shadow, From Bug To Dragon
After changing his name, Jackie Chan almost "got his wish" and became a bug. Like being jinxed he did not have any luck at all. Jackie Chan says, "After changing to this name, I wasn't busy at all. No one saw my movies, the box office was poor. I was very disillusioned. I said I would give myself two years. If I really couldn't make it then I would return to Australia. A friend gave me ten Australian dollars to wish me success. Coincidentally, after two years, someone offered me SNAKE IN EAGLE'S SHADOW (SEH YING DIU SAU), even Lau Ka Leung praised my performance. For this film I was the lead, assistant director and stunt double of many. I was paid for the double work too and luck started to come. Since then I have used this name for thirty years, only now I realize this name sounded pretty good." (38)