‘Scared me to death’: Watch Jackie Chan’s ‘Vanguard’ Jet Ski stun that went perilously wrong
At 66, Jackie Chan is far from retiring from dangerous stunts.
As this scene from Chan’s latest action film “Vanguard” shows, the actor is still taking on dangerous stunts like a Jet Ski chase scene in heavy rapids – which nearly drowned the legendary stuntman. Luckily, Chan was not injured in the 2019 film set accident which saw him trapped underwater following a spill in the swift water.
But the incident left him and the crew shaken.
“Wow, this scared me to death,” the waterlogged Chan said as he emerged out of the water from a rehearsal gone wrong, according to “Vanguard” behind-the-scene footage.
Director Stanley Tong, who has worked with Chan on nine films including the classic 1995 martial arts film “Rumble in the Bronx,” tells USA TODAY he has never been more concerned for his leading man’s safety and shed tears of relief after Chan emerged unscathed.
Tong showed the finished Jet Ski chase scene in “Vanguard,” released on VOD Tuesday, while placing the dramatic outtakes from the accident during the film’s credits, with Chan’s blessing.
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“We wanted to show the outtakes to prove that even though Jackie is 66 years old, he’s a professional actor and loves action,” Tong tells USA TODAY. “He still wants to try anything himself. That’s his passion and dedication and devotion to the film industry.”
In “Vanguard,” Chan plays Tang Huating, a member of a covert security force who comes under attack near Africa’s Victoria Falls in the scene-gone-wrong. Huating makes a water getaway near the edge of the beautiful, lethal waterfall with fellow Vanguard security member Qimiya Mu (Miya Muqi).
The Jet Ski action was filmed mainly in a Taiwanese whitewater park. Tong had long fantasized about the complex sequence, which he wanted to be shot with the actual actors (who would go without safety helmets and be dressed in street clothes). In the scene, Chan wears wearing a full suit with no life preserver for the cameras on the watercraft.
In the first day of rehearsal for a planned 20-day whitewater shoot, Chan was spinning around a rock with Muqi when their Jet Ski capsized in the swift water, sending both stars into the water. Muqi quickly surfaced, but the currents and the watercraft kept Chan pinned underwater for what Tong says was around 45 seconds.
Check out a behind-the-scenes clip as Jackie Chan does his own whitewater action shot in 'Vanguard.'
USA TODAY Handout
“He was stuck under the water because of a big rock behind him. And he couldn’t come up. I was very scared,” says Tong. “But as the safety people picked Jackie out of the water. I saw him breathing and move. I said, ‘Thank God!’ I was crying at that time.”
“Jackie said that the current was so strong he couldn’t move and he got pushed against the big rock,” says Tong, noting the star eventually pulled himself out of the perilous jam. “Jackie said that all he could think of was ‘Stay calm.’ “
The waterlogged Chan is seen laughing about the incident later in behind-the-scenes clips.
“But that night at the hotel, after dinner we had coffee. He was holding onto the coffee cup and his hand was shaking,” says Tong. “He told me he was really scared.”
Yet Chan being Jackie Chan, he was up for shooting the water sequence the next day.
“He said, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” says Tong. “It’s the Jackie Chan spirit. He said he would just have to be careful that it didn’t happen again.”
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