Everyone is familiar with Jackie Chan’s mad martial arts skills, but fewer people are probably aware that he has directed himself many a time in the past – including in Police Story, Operation Condor, and The Legend of Drunken Master – and is doing it again this year, with the Chinese period war drama, 1911, Chan’s 100th film.

A trailer has been released for 1911, which Chan co-helmed with cinematographer Li Zhang (The Banquet, Red Cliff). The film looks to provide the acrobatic actor with another opportunity to show off his pure acting abilities – and not just impress people with his elaborate fighting choreography or incredible stunt performances.

Most U.S. moviegoers have only seen Chan continue to do his (often, comedic) martial arts action shtick recently, in Hollywood productions ranging from The Forbidden Kingdom to The Spy Next Door. However, last year’s Karate Kid remake not only illustrated that Chan can handle more emotional and character-driven drama – but that he can actually do it quite well.

1911 should provide Chan with another opportunity to show off his dramatic acting chops, as you may note by the film’s official synopsis, below:

At the beginning of the 20th century, China is in a state of crisis. The country is split into warring factions, the citizens are starving, and recent political reforms have made matters worse, not better. The ruling Qing Dynasty, led by a seven-year-old emperor, and his ruthless mother, Empress Dowager Longyu (Joan Chen) is completely out of touch after 250 years of unquestioned power. With ordinary citizens beginning to revolt openly, the Qing Dynasty has created a powerful, modern army (the “New Army”) to quash any rebellion. But weapons are expensive, and desperate for cash, the Qing leaders are trading anything they can get their hands on with foreign countries… and selling China’s future in the process.

Huang Xing (Jackie Chan) has recently returned from Japan, where he has studied the art of modern warfare. When he finds his country falling apart, he feels he has no choice but to pick up the sword, leading an increasingly desperate series of violent rebellions against the powerful Qing Dynasty and the New Army- several with tragic consequences.

Now check out the 1911 trailer (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:

It’s refreshing to see the heavy use of practical effects and actual locales in this 1911 footage, seeing how so many Hollywood productions rely too heavily on digital technology – for everything from explosions to even the background scenery. 1911 also appears to be quite nicely shot overall and should boast some immersive battle sequences, partly thanks to Zhang’s experienced eye for good shot composition. While Chinese historical war dramas are not exactly rare commodities, any entry in that genre which features Chan in the lead is usually worth checking out – and 1911 doesn’t look to be an exception.

1911 will be released in both China and U.S. theaters on October 12th, 2011.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers