Chan’s film industry career spans over five decades. He first rose to fame in Hong Kong during the late 1970s, after the success of comic kung fu hits such as Drunken Master (1978). In the ’90s, Chan was propelled to international stardom with films such as Rumble in the Bronx (1995) and Rush Hour (1998), in which he co-starred with Chris Tucker.
Chan was introduced onstage by actor Tom Hanks, who noted that martial arts and action comedy directors and films don’t often receive the recognition they deserve at the Oscars. When Chan took the stage, he began his speech by describing how he used to watch the Oscars with his father every year. ‘My dad always said, ‘Son, you get so many movies out. When will you get one of these?’ Then I just looked at my dad. ‘Hahaha. Dad, I only make comedy action movies.”
‘After 56 years in the film industry, making more than 200 films, after [breaking] so many bones, finally this is mine,’ Chan said as he accepted the award, holding the iconic golden statuette.
He also took the opportunity to thank his hometown of Hong Kong. ‘I want to thank you, Hong Kong. Incredible city, my hometown, my hood, who made me,’ he said, going on to say that he was ‘proud to be Chinese.’
First instituted in 1948, the Academy Honorary Award honors exceptional lifetime achievements within the film industry that are not covered by the regular Academy Awards.
The other figures awarded at the event were the casting director Lynn Stalmaster, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, and editor Anne V. Coates. All three are industry veterans who, like Chan, have been making films for over 50 years.