Top 5 Jackie Chan Films from the 1970s

Due to there only being 14 Jackie Chan films during the ’70s, I figured a Top 10 list would be a bit much, especially considering that a good lot of those 14 aren’t all that worthy of making a list. I toyed with a “Top 7” for a while, but I’m going with a Top 5 as it felt like everything beyond these films were non-essential, and filling up a list “just because” seems counter-productive. If you’re curious what’s just shy of the cut, I made a list on my Letterboxd account that ranks all 14 in my order of preference. As always, lists are subjective, so definitely see the films and judge for yourself!

So without further ado, here’s my top five Jackie Chan movies from the 1970s!


#5 Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin (1978)
Directed by Chen Chi-Hwa
Reviewed April 23, 2013

snakeandcrane

Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin isn’t a perfect kung fu movie, but it’s highly entertaining and chock full of great, inventive fights. Looking back, the choreography might not be as refined as later Jackie films, but that shouldn’t change the fact that the choreography is AMAZING. Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin is a total blast.

#4 Shaolin Wooden Men (1976)
Directed by Chen Chi-Hwa
Reviewed March 16, 2013

shaolinwoodenmen

Maybe Shaolin Wooden Men isn’t up to par with the rest of the movies on this list, but I love it. In my youth it was my favorite early Jackie film, even above his Seasonal films, and it still resonates quite well for me. It offers the first real hint of what Jackie had in store for the cinema-going public, but this was only the smallest tip of the iceberg. Jackie plays a mute character who we get to know through his physical actions, and director Chen Chi-Hwa allows Jackie to have a lot more fun with the choreography than Lo Wei ever would. It might not have the best reputation, but for me at least, Shaolin Wooden Men is the real deal.

#3 The Fearless Hyena (1979)
Directed by Jackie Chan
Reviewed August 22, 2013

fearlesshyena

The Fearless Hyena was Jackie Chan’s directorial debut, and even though it’s something of a variation on the formula laid out in his Seasonal films, it’s a charming, funny film that transcends any negatives to fully entertain. Jackie emerges right out of the gate as a confident, capable director, one of his many professional faces that I feel he doesn’t get enough credit for. The Fearless Hyena is easily one of the best early Jackie films.

#2 Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)
Directed by Yuen Woo-Ping
Reviewed April 13, 2013

snakeintheeaglesshadow_2

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow is perhaps the most important film on this list, as it’s the one that broke the film industry open for Jackie Chan. Without this one, we may have never known the greatness being kept at bay during Jackie’s days with Lo Wei. Jackie would’ve been just another failed film star, one for historians and critics to look back on and wonder what might have been. But thankfully, we don’t have to do that because of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow! It also marked the directorial debut of Yuen Woo-Ping, one of the most important figures in all of martial arts cinema. Thanks, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow!

#1 Drunken Master (1978)
Directed by Yuen Woo-Ping
Reviewed July 6, 2013

drunkenmaster_3

But if there’s one movie to outdo the wonderful Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, it’s the other film Jackie made with Yuen Woo-Ping while on-loan to Seasonal Films: Drunken Master. If you’ve ever seen or heard about anything “drunken boxing,” it most likely all stems back to the popularity of this film. This is the one that put the technique into pop culture, and it’s a fantastic piece of kung fu cinema. I don’t know how non-fans would digest it, but fans of the genre will be salivating throughout.


So those are my picks…
What are your favorite Jackie films from the ’70s?

Leave a Reply! Comments are always much appreciated!