A new Jackie Chan film hits theaters today. It’s called 1911 and it’s (yawn) another period war epic. Usually this would be about as noteworthy as a fat celebrity doing a commercial for Jenny Craig. But today is different because, with this film, Jackie joins the Century Club. And I’m not talking about the Century Club you joined in college by drinking a hundred shots of beer in a hundred minutes. I’m talking about the Century Club you get into only once you have appeared in one hundred films. (It’s a little more exclusive.)
In honor of Jackie’s 100th film, and to give this accomplishment some historical context, how about we take a look at his career and the careers of eight other members of the hundred-film club?
Jackie Chan is, without a doubt, one of the greatest action/kung fu movie stars in the history of cinema. No, screw it. He’s the best.* Sadly, he is also 57-years-old and, therefore, has been gradually (and understandably) moving away from the types of films that made him famous. These days you’re more likely to see him in war epics (Shaolin, 1911) and unnecessary remakes (The Karate Kid, which they didn’t even have the decency to rename The Kung Fu Kid, even though Jaden Smith clearly learns kung fu from a Chinese man in China) than movies with painstakingly choreographed action sequences like this one from First Strike:
*My shrink told me I should be more assertive.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sam Jackson’s membership in the Century Club is the fact that he only started getting regular work around 1987, when he was pushing 40-years-old. That means the guy has made 101 of his 106 films in the last 23 years, which comes to about 4.4 per year. To give you some perspective, prolific actors such as Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, and Charlton Heston aren’t members of the 100 film club despite careers that are twice as long as Jackson’s.
Incidentally, if you count Jackson’s work in the four recent Star Wars abominations, his 100th film was Iron Man 2 If you’re a supernerd who would prefer to excise those films from his resumé, that would make Captain America number one hundred. Either way, it’s a superhero movie.
James Earl Jones is the only 100-film actor who didn’t even appear on screen in his most famous film.* But that’s not to say he hasn’t had some great moments on the silver screen. After all, the very first movie he ever made was Stanley Kubrick’s classicDr. Strangelove. Since then he’s done a little bit of everything, from the beloved baseball film Field of Dreams, to the not-so-beloved Dana Carvey bomb Clean Slate, to a made-for-TV vampire flick called Feast of All Saints—his 100th.
*If you just read that sentence without realizing I was talking about his role as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, please be so kind as to punch yourself in the face for me.