The Dangerous Film Stunt That Nearly Killed Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan is one of the biggest action stars in the world. The Hong Kong legend has been doing his own stunts since "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow," the 1978 film that cemented his name as a certified action star. Chan's slapstick kung fu comedy style has been celebrated ever since, and although the actor's long stunt-filled career has made him a household name, it has also given him some severe injuries. Throughout the course of his films, Jackie Chan has performed several dangerous stunts, and he has a catalog of broken bones to prove it.

During "Drunken Master" (1978), Chan damaged his superciliary bone (eyebrow bone), which almost caused blindness. He's had a broken nose four times. Chan has suffered from dislocated shoulders, spinal damage, a broken ankle, an eye injury, a lacerated lip, and broken teeth, among others. That's how dedicated the actor is to stunt work — nothing has ever been a setback for him. 

However, the actor truly suffered when he endured his most notorious injury while filming "Armour of God" in 1986, when he was just 32. It's the closest he has ever been to death.

Jackie Chan jumped off a tree ... unsuccessfully

During a 2017 interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Jackie Chan reflected on his time filming "Armour of God" and how a scene involving a few beers and a tree brought him dangerously close to death. The actor needed to leap onto a tree from a ledge — and he nailed the shot on his first attempt. But Chan is also a perfectionist, and he decided to repeat it a second time after feeling like he wasn't fast enough in the first take.

Filming in Yugoslavia, Chan performed the stunt once again. But he wasn't as successful this time — the branch he was holding onto snapped, which sent him plummeting down the tree and caused him to crack his skull. The actor fell straight onto his back and hit his head on a rock, which forced a piece of bone to pierce his brain, causing Chan to bleed severely from his ear. But there's one detail that made it even worse. 

"In the morning, I was drinking a beer in the movie," Chan shared with Yahoo Entertainment during a Role Recall interview. "On this day, I'd probably be drinking a water," he explained, but since the movie scene required to film the fizz-pop of a beer can, the actor cracked open one too many beers right before performing his stunt. "Then I jumped through a tree."

Although the actor immediately nailed the jump, he wasn't satisfied. "It wasn't fast enough. ... I wanted to [swing] like a monkey," explained Chan. So they tried filming it again after Chan had consumed more beer. During the second take, the branch Chan was holding onto snapped hard, as did every other branch he tried to grab, eventually causing him to take the fall.

The actor crashed hard onto a rock. "My whole body was numb," he revealed. He was bleeding from the ear and had to be rushed to the hospital for surgery. "[I] almost died.." the actor explained, his cracked skull had to be tended to immediately, and if it weren't for the medics, the injury would prove fatal.

Jackie Chan recovered eventually, and he went on to film a sequel for "Armour of God" and a plethora of other films. The 67-year-old actor and martial artist is still doing his stunts today — he was last seen in "The Foreigner," in which he portrayed a London restauranteur named Ngoc Minh Quan who sets out in search of politically-motivated terrorists to avenge his daughter's death.