Jackie Chan, Jedi Master. Would we not love to see a cameo in the next big Star Wars film? Yes. We. Would. While it’s a great conversation starter, I’m thrilled just to give him a lightsaber today, just to prove he’d be King of Badassery with one. Thankfully, I’m a digital artist who can fulfill such nerdy ideas and accomplish myself as a superfan, even if only to frame for my Motivation Wall. However, I learned human lessons with this project, and that is The Way.
Jackie doesn’t need to prove to us he is one with the Force. None can do or reproduce what he’s accomplished, not even CGI, and that is saying something in 2022. His is a rags to riches saga that went from starting fights to keeping the peace (yeah — humanities, charity, overall amazing human). That is Jedi material. Hard-trained and tenacious to a T, learning year over year from mistakes, pain, breaking bones, getting back on his feet each time with the patience to keep going, keep improving, keep training. The Jedi arts were clearly inspired by Eastern belief systems and the discipline of martial arts. Although I believe maintaining a focus on this type of discipline for anyone’s personal life goals is way bigger than getting this guy a cameo in a Star Wars film, it still would be legendary to see a Jedi Jackie realized. Anyway, I’m mostly here to support the former. I hope it inspires someone.
When I brainstormed for “Jackie Saber”, my first solid decision was that it had to be old Jackie. The face is from The Foreigner, a film I really enjoyed him in, and I actually really love his war-worn look (which was aged for the film, but I don’t think it is here). His face had to say fierce and focus, but also needed direct and well-lit eyes. I love me some young Jackie (have you seen him? 😍), but nothing says wisdom and experience like an aged Chinese face. Big takeaway here: Appreciation for elders who “keep kicking” in their own right (whatever one has to “kick” about), and inspiration for myself also as I age to the middle of my lifespan.
Power to age and wisdom, friends. Let it empower you. Keep kicking. Respect.
My secondary and most difficult decision was: It has to be Jackie’s body, or an amalgamation thereof. No one can pull off his unique style and posture, and although I considered finding a model to photograph for poses and better quality photography, I wanted to say that This Is Jackie. I played with some fashion website models in kung fu clothing, but … they weren’t Jackie. His upper body is a lightly tweaked Drunken Master pose, and the fist is from Rush Hour. I perused so many fists, ha. His kick was the hardest. I went through so many Jackie legs! I am only “learned” in martial arts from what my son brings home from karate so, even with my inexperienced martial arts knowledge, I didn’t want to invent some composite that didn’t fly properly. I finally had to settle on a Bruce Lee kick (from his Madame Tussaud’s wax likeness). I know, I cheated. But if it can’t be Jackie Chan, it has to be Bruce then, am I right? I don’t think Jackie will argue.
It factors into his innate Jedi mind (no tricks) that Jackie Chan has always chosen never to play a bad guy. I respect that so hard. The saber, thus, had to scream of Goodness, and that is the quintessential green lightsaber. The handle I stumbled upon I found at Savi’s Workshop (spot at Disney World where you can build your own pretty damn awesome lightsaber), and this saber handle was designed as a “protection and defense” model. I elaborated on the concept by making it a dual blade lightsaber. I’ve seen Jackie with the bo staff more than with the sword, so that just fell into place, plus the balance of green on both sides symbolizes control of the Force pretty fiercely.
So, you can jump into this portrait with Jackie Chan, or you can recreate this whole Jedi portrait vibe all for yourself! The Imágenarium (by Imágemária) is a digital art and portrait “studio” I designed for thematic portraits (I draw a lot of nerds, it just flew right together). I have quite a collection of virtual fantasy scenes for my portrait subjects to explore. The background I used here was one I shot on location in a cave in central Florida. I thought the cave would evoke the mystic moment from the mirror cave scene with Rey in The Last Jedi, especially with my signature “Nighttime” color treatment which makes it look pretty amazing in the moonlight.
It would be neat to see Jackie Chan as a Jedi Master, to confirm visually for us nerds what we already know he’s capable of, just for good epic fun — playing himself of course. But you won’t see it unless Jackie’s passionate about it. Honestly, I think he’s too big for a cameo. There’s no way Star Wars writers could compact Jackie Chan into a small role; it would fall short. And we’d be disappointed. He’d have to commit to a whole character/master story/momentum-towards-major-saber-battle sort of thing, which isn’t likely given how busy he tends to be.
Great conversation starter though, no joke!
My work here may soon be going up on Etsy for sale as photographic prints or posters, I have attempted getting in touch with Jackie to approve of such a thing. Stay tuned on Facebook or Instagram if you want to follow the saga. Also, if you enjoy watching things in Photoshop, scope out my making-of video below.
Manda is a fantasy portrait photographer and digital artist based in Orlando, FL