It's no secret the kind of stuntwork Jackie Chan currently does in his action films that no American studio will insure the actor, so the bulk of his work is now filmed overseas and among them was 2017's The Foreigner, which co-stars Pierce Brosnan. While promoting his latest film The Protégé, Martin Campbell, who not only directed Brosnan in his Bond debut in 1995's GoldenEye but also did the same for current one in Daniel Craig in his debut Casino Royale (2006), spoke with /Film about working with the martial arts actor.
The Foreigner, based on the far less PC book title The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, follows Ngoc Minh Quan (Chan), a widowed former Vietnam War special operations forces soldier, who runs a Chinese restaurant in London when his daughter becomes a victim of a terrorist bombing from an Irish republican group called the Authentic IRA claiming responsibility. Seeking revenge, Quan becomes a one-man army using his particular set of skills to unravel a conspiracy. "He was very good in The Karate Kid [remake]," Campbell said.
"He was excellent. Again, it was a serious role, not a funny role, and that was what convinced me he'd be very good. He's a fine actor, Jackie, outside of what he does so brilliantly. A terrific guy, too. What you see is what you get."
Chan developed a reputation for blending action and comedy with American audiences, but has also done more serious work when making his Hong Kong films, most notably in his Police Story films.
"With The Foreigner, Jackie had to suppress all his natural instincts, certainly in the action scenes," Campbell said. "I was quite tough on him, in terms I wanted to keep the old man feel about him. I made his body language hunched a little bit, old man-ish. I mean, Jackie was 65 at the time, but he's very fit. I kept the action all within the military if you know what I mean. I wanted it to be military. I didn't want any of his tricks or any of his dropping ladders over the heads of waiters, which he does so brilliantly. He agreed to do that, and you know, that was a great thing."