Media Review: Jackie Chan adventures hits hard with a blast from the past

Makoto Hunter, Copy Editor

With Netflix exclusive media such as Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Dinotrux, and Marvel’s Daredevil becoming more and more prevalent, it’s easy to forget how the now ubiquitous on-demand internet streaming media provider got its start: reviving old shows.

Yes, when Netflix started out, its catalog of media wasn’t filled with original television shows and movies, but with recent hits and old favorites. Instead of shelling out thirty bucks for the complete season two of Monk you could watch it all through Netflix for eight bucks a month. The box took up less space on your shelves, too.

For a lot of people, Netflix meant they could rewatch their old shows, and that’s fantastic. But me? I was never much of a big TV watcher, and what I did watch was very limited, and not all of it was on Netflix (Or isn’t anymore. R.I.P., Monk.). What I found myself faced with wasn’t a way to return to my old favorites, but a way to find some new favorites. And as luck would have it, I did.

Jackie Chan Adventures is an animated children’s television show from 2000 that stars, you guessed it, Jackie Chan. Apparently the guy was so popular that they figured turning him into a cartoon was the next logical step and, miraculously, they turned out to be right. While the age of the visuals does show when compared to animated television today (especially since this was before CGI animation became more widespread), the writing of the whole thing is as snappy as ever, and if you like Jackie Chan, you’ll probably like the show.

Plot-wise, Jackie Chan Adventures isn’t particularly complicated. Our star is a fictionalized Jackie Chan who works as an archaeologist for a university. When he discovers an ancient talisman in his travels, though, he is quickly drawn into a world of spies, chi magic, and a global conspiracy bent upon resurrecting an ancient demon king and conquering the world.

Yes, that did escalate a little quickly. The show has a fair bit more fantasy elements than Jackie Chan’s usual work, but it works surprisingly well, and the tone of the whole thing is lighthearted enough that you can swallow it.

Jackie Chan Adventures is a show meant for a juvenile audience, but that doesn’t mean other demographics can’t enjoy it. The tone hits a balance of comic absurdity, and it feels like an old-fashioned super hero show where the heroes fight aliens on the moon (nothing like that happens in Jackie Chan Adventures; it’s only meant to be a comparison of tones). This is aided by the fictional Jackie Chan’s incredulous reaction to the situations he finds himself trapped in, as despite being an incredibly skilled martial artist he considers himself an archaeologist first and foremost and is frustrated that he is constantly put into situations that necessitate combat and fighting. In contrast with his pacifistic Dudley-do-right attitude is the wholly made up Jade Chan, Jackie’s “niece” with a taste for adventure and a serious sarcastic streak.

Rounding out the cast is “Uncle,” who is, you guessed it, Jackie’s uncle. He runs a curiosity shops and studies ancient magic, though Jackie is only unexpectedly introduced to it after getting wrapped up in the aforementioned ancient cult.

The cast clicks together very well, and their conflicting personalities complement one another to great effect. Above all, you still get the idea that they’re a family, as despite Jackie’s exasperation with Jade’s tendency to put herself in danger and Jade’s snark usually being aimed at Jackie and Uncle being frustrated with the both of them for not already knowing things about the archaic art of chi magic (Uncle really has no justification), they still show that they care for one another when it counts, which is pretty neat to see in a show that might otherwise be considered very simplistic.

In short, the animation works, even if it’s a little old; the writing is humorous, snappy, and fun; and the cast is entertaining to watch. All in all, I would recommend Jackie Chan Adventures to anyone who likes classic Jackie Chan films, kid’s TV, or silver age superheroes. No, it’s not a deep and thought provoking drama, but it is fun, and sometimes (a lot of the time) that’s all you need.