Jackie Chan may be one of the most cherished action heroes of his generation. But according to his estranged daughter, the martial arts maestro isn’t as nice as he apparently seems. Here’s a look at the family drama that has brought Chan’s reputation into disrepute.
Born in Hong Kong in 1954, Chan got his start in martial arts at a young age. He learned how to fight during his time at the China Drama Academy, where he also studied acrobatics and acting. And the rigorous training in the latter pursuit seemed to pay off, as by his teens Chan had appeared in several movies – including Big and Little Wong Tin Bar, The Love Eterne and Come Drink with Me.
Next, after serving as a stuntman on two Bruce Lee movies, Chan was given top billing in 1973’s Little Tiger of Canton. And yet the fledgling actor wouldn’t come to wider attention until 1978 – the year in which Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master were released. Both films showcased Chan’s distinctive brand of comedic kung-fu and turned him into a star.
Then in the early 1980s, Chan first attempted to break into Hollywood – and yet the movies he made in the U.S. during that time, The Big Brawl and The Protector, struggled to find audiences. Still, he continued to boost his popularity in East Asia with The Young Master and the pioneering Dragon Lord. He also consolidated his record of Hong Kong box-office successes with 1986’s Armour of God.
After appearing in a number of sequels to his previous movies, Chan finally won Hollywood over in 1995 with Rumble in the Bronx. Three years later, he then starred alongside Chris Tucker in Rush Hour – a buddy cop movie that earned more than $244 million internationally. And Chan subsequently repeated that seemingly winning formula by joining forces with Owen Wilson for 2000’s Shanghai Noon.
After that, further Hollywood hits came for Chan in the form of The Forbidden Kingdom and Kung Fu Panda. Yet even so, the actor was exasperated with the types of roles that he was being offered in Tinseltown – not to mention the fact that he was unable to have a hand in the actual creation of the movies. So, Chan diversified, starting up a production company in 2003. He also appeared in martial arts-free movie Shinjuku Incident in 2009 and showcased his dramatic chops in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.
Then, after starring in his 100th movie, 2011’s 1911, Chan announced plans to retire from the action genre. He later went back on his word, though, going on to appear in stunt-packed flicks including Police Story 2013, Dragon Blade and Kung Fu Yoga. And he shows no signs of slowing down either; in the past five years he’s added Skiptrace, Railroad Tigers and The Foreigner to his prolific body of work.
But it’s perhaps no surprise that Chan once considered a move away from action films. After all, he has become renowned for the staggering amount of injuries that he’s suffered while performing the majority of his own stunts. For example, he once nearly died after fracturing his skull while shooting Armour of God. The star has also broken his nose, toes, hips, cheekbones, neck, ribs and ankle over the years as well as having dislocated his pelvis.
Meanwhile, despite his hectic work schedule, Chan has made time for a personal life too. Indeed, in 1982 he married Taiwanese actress Joan Lin, and they welcomed their first and only child, Jaycee, soon afterward. But Chan’s image received a blow in the late ’90s when it was revealed that he had cheated on his wife with Elaine Ng Yi-Lei. The one-time Miss Asia winner also gave birth to their daughter, Etta, in 1999.
Chan ultimately decided against becoming involved in Etta’s life, though. For a while, admittedly, he paid Elaine monthly child support of around $45,000, and he allegedly bought a costly home for his daughter and her mother. However, his financial help would eventually cease after Elaine moved to Hong Kong and entered the public eye.
What’s more, Chan would only publicly acknowledge Etta in 2004 during a promotional tour for Around the World in 80 Days. At that time, the star admitted, “I know I have failed my daughter, but since her mother is that kind of a person, I don’t know how to treat [my daughter].” In 2015, however, Etta revealed that she wasn’t angry with Chan for how he had behaved with her – even if she had never really seen him as her dad.
And in the same year that Etta spoke out about Chan, her relationship with her mother also reportedly came under strain. Elaine was even arrested following a spat between the pair over sedatives discovered in Etta’s bedroom, and she was subsequently left unemployed and struggled to make ends meet. In spite of Elaine’s plight, though, Chan is said to have refused to support her and Etta financially.
But tensions between mother and daughter seemingly continued to rise. In 2017 Elaine accused Etta of having removed personal objects from their home without permission. And indeed, Etta would later admit to having taken some of the items; according to the teenager, however, she had informed her mother beforehand that she would be doing so.
In April 2018 Etta then found herself in the headlines yet again when she made an emotional appeal on YouTube. The 19-year-old claimed that she and girlfriend Andi Autumn had had to resort to living underneath a bridge because of their parents’ homophobia. She also explained that they couldn’t rely on government homeless shelters, as that might lead to the pair being separated.
Etta also told viewers that she and Andi had tried everything. She said, “We’ve gone to the police, we’ve gone to the hospital, the food banks, LGBTQ community shelters – and all of them just don’t give a s**t. Two people in love that share true love are trying not to get split apart, and they’re trying to f**k us over just because… I don’t understand it.”
That said, the couple’s plea for help quickly racked up more than 100,000 views on the video-sharing platform. Etta had begun dating Andi, a social media star from Canada, in February 2017. And later that same year, she publicly came out on Instagram. “In case no-one got the memo, I’m gay,” she told her thousands of followers.
Previously, though, Etta had reportedly found it difficult to come to terms with her sexuality. She has also allegedly survived a number of suicide attempts. And yet Etta has credited her girlfriend for giving her the fortitude to accept herself. In a 2017 post on Instagram, she addressed Andi by saying, “I encountered many events that could have broken me. But, in actuality, you strengthened me.”
Meanwhile, during promotion for his action thriller The Foreigner, Chan was asked to comment about Etta’s coming out. “If she likes it, that’s fine,” the star succinctly replied. However, Chan has yet to publicly respond to the latest drama surrounding his daughter and the accusations of homophobia.
But while Etta’s father may not yet have spoken out about the YouTube video, her mother certainly has. In an April 2018 interview with the Oriental Daily News, Elaine blamed Andi, who is 12 years older than Etta, for being a negative influence on her daughter. Elaine also argued that Etta has mental health issues and suggested that the pair should concentrate on finding work instead of making YouTube videos.
Elaine also refused to take the blame for her daughter’s situation. She told the Oriental Daily News, “Many people in Hong Kong get paid low wages, but they still go to work. If they don’t have work, then they’ll film these videos to complain about their parents? How many of these videos would we see in a day then?”