‘THE MAN WHO ATE A SUCCULENT CHINESE MEAL’; a documentary uncovering the true story of Jack Karlson announced

On the 11th of October 1991, Jack Karlson was apprehended by Queensland Police at a chinese restaurant in Fortitude Valley. Following a Shakespearean response from Karlson during the arrest and subsequent coverage from Channel 7’s Chris Reason (who, at the time, believed he was Queensland’s most wanted criminal) – a legend was born. 

Spawning countless memorable quotes such as “This is democracy manifest!“; “What is the charge? Eating a meal? A succulent Chinese meal?” & “I see that you know your judo well!” – the video from the incident is now deeply embedded in the Australian cultural psyche, referred to by some as the “the pre-eminent Australian meme” (The Guardian, 2019). 

Today Kicking Television Productions have announced ‘The Man Who Ate Succulent Chinese Meal’; a documentary that tells the story of Jack Karlson’s fascinating life before and after the infamous public arrest.

Directed by Heath Davis (‘Christmess’ (2023), ‘Locusts’ (2019), ‘Book Week’ (2018)) & produced by Tim Randall, both filmmakers were fascinated by the video growing up, and the many mysteries surrounding Jack Karlson’s life. 

“Ever since I first saw the video I’ve just had a fascination with it. It never made any sense to me. I assumed he was a British Theatre actor who just had too many drinks and wouldn’t leave. Why else would he talk like that? Why else would the press be there? But then no-one seemed to know who he was. Years later when articles started to come out about Jack, I could see that other people were asking the same questions and then to find out he was actually out there living in rural Queensland I just knew there would be more to his story.”

“I vividly recall watching the news in 1991 as a high school kid and was just captivated by it. I’d never seen anything like it. It was hilarious, original and courageous. Who acts like that to the cops? I remember thinking, who was this guy and then never hearing of it again. Then, of course, it was brought to the forefront of my attention again when it went viral decades later and, like everyone else, I found myself asking that same question – who is this guy that’s referenced by millions daily. 

He really is an enigma and I wanted to find out the truth. And it just so happens to be that Jack is one of the most fascinating human beings I’ve ever encountered with the most fascinating life story I’ve ever heard. Usually, I have to conjure the narrative but here it was already written and, best of all, it’s all true. I also have an affinity with the Aussie larrikin and underdog and Jack epitomizes that classic Aussie archetype. “

Although the initial motivation behind the documentary was to focus on the comedic aspects of the story, after they had started talking to Jack it was apparent that this was not going to be the light-hearted film they had set out to make – finding many dark twists and turns as Jack’s story began to unfold. 

“One of the beauties of documentary filmmaking is you get to take your time and assemble as you go. I can assure people will be captivated from beginning to end. We started out filming a comedy but what’s quickly becoming apparent is this is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. People are going to be blown away. One thing is for sure: there will be plenty of laughs and tears.”

To celebrate the film’s announcement Jack will be visiting his old stomping ground – making a trip to the China Sea Restaurant in Milton, Brisbane where the arrest took place back in 1991. 

Aah to visit the lovely China sea restaurant once again. The scene of where the injustice happened all those many years ago. I look forward to seeing the fellow who runs the place and having one of his succulent meals, I will of course be paying in cash as always”

‘The Man Who Ate A Succulent Chinese Meal’ is currently slated for a March 2025 release.