Chan was born on 7 April 1954, in Hong Kong, as Chan Kong-sang.
He began his career by appearing in small roles at the age of five as a child actor. At age eight, he appeared with some of his fellow "Little Fortunes" in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962) with Li Li-Hua playing his mother.
Chan's first major breakthrough was the 1978 film Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, shot while he was loaned to Seasonal Film Corporation under a two-picture deal. Director Yuen Woo-ping allowed Chan complete freedom over his stunt work. The film established the comedic kung fu genre, and proved refreshing to the Hong Kong audience.
In 1982, Chan married Joan Lin, a Taiwanese actress. Their son, singer and actor Jaycee Chan was born the day after they got married.
Chan's first huge blockbuster success came when he co-starred with Chris Tucker in the 1998 buddy cop action comedy Rush Hour, grossing US$130 million in the United States alone.
Despite the success of the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon films, Chan became frustrated with Hollywood over the limited range of roles and lack of control over the filmmaking process. In response to Golden Harvest's withdrawal from the film industry in 2003, Chan started his own film production company, JCE Movies Limited (Jackie Chan Emperor Movies Limited) in association with Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG)
He has got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2011, JC Dragon’s Heart Europe was established to continue the work of The Foundation throughout Europe and Africa.
On 1 February 2015, Chan was awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of the Territorial Crown by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia Tuanku Abdul Halim in conjunction with the country's Federal Territory Day.