After almost 10 months since its Hong Kong release, CZ12, also known as Chinese Zodiac, international superstar Jackie Chan’s newest –– and last –– big action movie as a director, was released in select AMC American and Canadian theaters October 18.
Filmed on location across five continents and seven countries, CZ12 takes audiences on a global adventure as Chan’s “JC,” a modern day treasure hunter, is hired by a group of antique dealers to track down six bronze sculptures that are missing from the original set of 12 representing the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. With the help of his team of explorers, a Chinese artifact student and a French heiress, JC races through French vineyards and braves the jungles of the South Seas in search of forgotten relics.
With a diverse number of locations comes a diverse cast, a casting decision that Chan owes to his many years of observation in the entertainment industry.
“I wanted to show the whole world that good guys and bad guys can be of any race,” Chan explains. He specifically mentions a band of pirates that shows up to sabotage one of JC’s missions. “If you notice, I cast a black guy, a Filipino guy, a Japanese guy, and so on. In Hollywood movies, the bad guys are always black. I always thought to myself, ‘Why are they always black?’ They’re not.”
The action-packed film is one of Chan’s most ambitious to date. Not only did Chan spend a hefty amount of money producing the film –– one of the major fight scenes cost more than $10 million to shoot –– but he also broke two Guinness World Records during the process for “Most Stunts Performed by a Living Actor” and “Most Credits in One Movie,” the latter of which includes 15 credits, among them Actor, Director, Producer, Co-Writer and Fight Choreographer.
Chan owes his ever-expanding list of credits to his developing urge for creative license. As Chan began to make more movies over the span of his 50-year career, directors began to allow him to choreograph fight scenes and even add comedy to the scripts. Eventually, he wanted to do it all.
“I spent six years writing the script [for CZ12] while I was in America,” Chan says. “During Rush Hour 3, during The Forbidden Kingdom, any time I had a break, I’d be sitting there writing my script. Fighting is always good, but I wanted to make people laugh.”
CZ12’s cast brings in numerous actors, from American actor Oliver Platt to a cameo appearance by Chan’s own wife, Joan Lin. Yao Xingtong, the 2009 nominee for Best Actress in China’s Golden Rooster Awards for her role in Blossom, plays Coco, a bright Chinese student and passionate activist who fights to return stolen cultural treasures to their countries of origin.
“It’s been very fun,” Xingtong says of the time she spent filming with the cast and crew. “Jackie worked hard and took care of all of us. In China, we all like to call him ‘Big Brother.’”
Since its release, CZ12 has earned over $160 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing action film and second highest grossing Chinese film of all time in China. It has also won Best Action Choreography at the 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards.
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Jackie Chan’s “Chinese Zodiac” Premieres in The U.S.