The 9 Principles of Action Comedy

“Jackie Chan doesn’t win because he is a better fighter, he wins because he doesn’t give up.”

Tony Zhou has a clear understanding of cinematic storytelling. I’ve posted several of his videos before on camera movement. They’re amazing video essays. If he ever reads this: Tony keep up the good work man. I’m learning something here. A lot of something.

On this video, he talks about the great martial artist, director, and actor Jackie Chan — the grand master of action and comedy in film.

The way I see it, Jackie Chan knows perfectly how to use timing and rhythm. The contrary to what I’ve shared before, the camera is setup for all to see. Nothing special. A wide shot. The cutting and energy in the acting and choreography does all the work here.

If Charlie Chaplin (or Buster Keaton) were here today, they too will be a great fan. Because they would agree, I believe, that Jackie knows how to play with visual emotion. That he too is a master of pantomime in a way. And this is what makes him great. Don’t you agree?

Chan

Video Notes: Tony shares some principles that would help our character become funny and a fighting winner too!

The 9 Principles of Action Comedy

1. Start with a DISADVANTAGE
2. Use the ENVIRONMENT
3. Be CLEAR in your shots
4. Action & Reaction in the SAME frame
5. Do as many TAKES as necessary
6. Let the audience feel the RHYTHM
7. In editing, TWO good hits = ONE great hit
8. PAIN is humanizing
9. Earn your FINISH

My favorite:

“Pain humanizes him.”

Pain, though funny, makes it real. We know and understand that. We’ve been there. And we, the audience, too want to win this fight scene.

Check out the The Jackie Chan Experience.

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