One of the most popular film personalities in the world, Jackie Chan came from a poverty-stricken Hong Kong family -- so poor, claims Chan, that he was almost sold in infancy to a wealthy British couple. As it turned out, Chan became his family's sole support. Enrolled in the Chinese Opera Research Institute at the age of seven, he spent the next decade in rigorous training for a career with the Peking Opera, excelling in martial arts and acrobatics.
Billed as Cheng Lung, Chan entered films in his mid-teens, appearing in 25 productions before his 20th birthday. Starting out as a stunt man, Chan was promoted to stardom as the potential successor to the late Bruce Lee. In his earliest starring films, he was cast as a stone-cold serious type, determined to avenge Lee's death. Only when he began playing for laughs did Chan truly attain full celebrity status. Frequently referred to as the Buster Keaton of kung-fu, Chan's outlook on life is a lot more optimistic than Keaton's, but in his tireless devotion to the most elaborate of sight gags and the most awe-inspiring of stunts (many of which have nearly cost him his life), Chan is Keaton incarnate.