That factory fight is a classic Jackie Chan sequence. Tell us about choreographing and filming that scene.

The story took the characters to Russia and that’s where they meet, so we wanted to figure out how do we do a sequence that could really display his crazy antics? We came up with this as we were developing the script, this kind of a Russian factory that makes these dolls which are such a Russian cliche. It was Jackie who came up with the idea of the dolls that are packed inside each other and use them in the fight. It felt like such a ridiculous idea and was actually kind of complicated to shoot. If you’re holding one doll and it breaks, how do you get a hold of the other dolls inside? How do you make them breakaways and how do you make the outer doll break and not the inner doll break? It was actually logistically harder to do than it looks, but we thought it was just absolutely funny because everybody knows these dolls.

It was all built. It was a huge warehouse in Beijing or actually a huge old factory where we built this. None of the conveyor belts or any of that was real. It would be too dangerous and complicated to shoot in a real factory so they were all built just to serve the story and the action. We mapped out the gags together and built it. I worked closely with Jackie’s stunt team and Wu Gang who is his stunt coordinator and became my very close friend. Then Jackie showed up on the day. We were shooting there probably for three or four days and then he looked at the [pre-vis] and we showed him all the gags we had designed. Then he was like, “How about this? How about that?” He started adding his ideas to it. Some of them are little and some of them are actually really big. It all worked within what we had built so there’s a lot of preplanning and a lot of Jackie’s improvisation.


It’s true Jackie’s training in Peking Opera includes every kind of performing, including he’s a singer. I have his album. Did you include the “Rolling in the Deep” scene because Jackie’s also a singer?

It was a little bit of a revelation to me also. I had heard about the fact that he sings but the fact that he’s had several albums that are bestsellers. He can draw 25,000 people easily to a stadium concert. So I was kind of looking for a place where I could have him sing. Then when we were in Mongolia, I just loved that place and I loved the people and loved the atmosphere. I thought this would be an awesome kind of east meets west meets Mongolia meets rest of the world kind of scene. I asked around, I asked young people in Mongolia, “Are there western pop songs do you like?” They said, “Of course.” And I said, “What is your favorite?” And they said, “Adele.” I was like, “Oh my God, that’s so awesome.” Then I got this idea to include the Adele song. I asked Jackie and he was like, “Yeah, of course I know the song.” He just had to learn some of the lyrics. The crowd all knew the lyrics. So we created this scene that I thought was awesome and the audience really seems to like it because it’s kind of like western pop culture bringing all these cultures together and seeing that music and art is universal. It can really unite people in a positive way.

Did the horse poop on cue in every take?

[Laughs] That was one of those crazy ridiculous things. That horse was a goofy horse. It wouldn’t do anything that we asked him to do. The Mongolians can handle the horses and do anything with them but for normal people, it’s totally impossible to control them. So that horse never did anything on cue. When Jackie and Johnny were supposed to ride it together, the horse said, “No, thank you. No two people on me.” When it was supposed to be not moving and Johnny is trying to pull it, the horse refuses to move. That was a whole big deal because the horse wouldn’t do anything that we wanted him to do so the pooping was just one of those crazy coincidences. They happened to be doing the scene and the dialogue when it happened. I thought about it a couple of times, should I include it in the movie? I thought I’ll just go for it. Why not?

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