Thursday, July 30, 2009


Eileen Chang once wrote, "Beijing Opera is very complex. Even the art of a few costumes is enough for you to study for a lifetime." No wonder Jackie Chan frankly states that Beijing Opera has no future in Hong Kong.

Speaking of how to spread the potential of Beijing Opera from Master Yu Jim Yuen, Jackie Chan helplessly says, "Beijing Opera used to be popular because at the time people didn't have much entertainment. Now with so many choices, who would watch Beijing Opera? Beijing Opera could sing 'How are you' for full fifteen minutes. Walking from backstage to the stage could take half a hour. Who today has the patience to watch you?"

Times Changed, Stifle National Treasure

Jackie Chan is not pouring cold water on Beijing Opera. When Beijing Opera fell to this cultural desert of Hong Kong, few could relate to it. Once assisted with the Hong Kong Beijing Opera Club Bau Yau Dip points out, Beijing Opera's development in Hong Kong faces two difficulties. "Beijing Opera, when performed poor, loses its flavor. When you listen you listen to that flavor. On stage a melody can take half a day. One note can be sung for three minutes. Outsiders who don't understand would scratch their head open!"

In today's fast food culture, the vision of Beijing Opera development seems too extravagant. Jackie Chan says, "Honestly, few truly has the vision. Times changed, no one in Hong Kong watches Beijing Opera. In the Mainland only people in their 40s or 50s would. Younger generation wouldn't be interested in learning Beijing Opera, it's too tough! After they complete their study they have no future either. I feel Beijing Opera has to change, it can't be this way for several decades."

Jackie Chan recalls a personal experience and cites that for Beijing Opera to develop it has to change. He says, "Beijing Opera background is helpful to action films but depends on the situation. Ten years ago when I made SHANGHAI NOON, I invited a Shanghai wushu team to make the movie in the U.S. They played Indians in below zero temperature and were very professional, but their gestures and concerns were still the stage type. No Indian would look at people like the veteran operas with the eyes wide open! Thus I say you can't take the Beijing Opera ways and force them into film in the same manner."

Cultivate Talent, Bloom And Blossom

Jackie Chan even cites himself as an example as he proudly says, "Like me, after completing my apprenticeship I went to study boxing, Hapkido, Taekwondo, karate, Wing Chun; speaking of which, I am somewhat lucky that back the school wasn't an authentic drama school so I got to learn Northern style, Southern style, even English. These basics were very helpful in my future development. If you ask me do I want to open a school, I dare to say that everyone who has followed Yu Jim Yuen would, but over the years, Jackie Chan stuntman association and Sammo Hung stuntman association both have cultivated talent. Take a look at today's film industry, we trained many of its people!" (39)

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