Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jackie Chan's Who Am I?

The title of this Jackie Chan film, which made its debut on HBO before appearing on video, could have as much to do with Chan's current career predicament as it does his character's memory loss. For years, Chan ruled as the undisputed champion of the Asian film market, a success he finally carried over to America with the enjoyable 1996 crossover hit Rumble In The Bronx. While, in one of Chan's movies, that would have made an ideal freeze-frame happy ending, the story didn't end there, and Chan saw film after film—from Supercop through Mr. Nice Guy—released in America to diminishing returns. Part of the problem was the issue of translation: Was Chan's best strategy to re-edit his films and package himself as an American-style action star, as he did in First Strike, or simply release his best films, such as Operation Condor, to America in the hope that what worked abroad would work for the Yanks? As it turned out, neither approach did particularly well. Condor barely played beyond a crowd of appreciative Chan cultists, while last year's Mr. Nice Guy was re-edited almost beyond comprehension. If not for Chan's surprise success as half of the Rush Hour team, it's likely that more of his movies would have met the home-premiere fate of Who Am I? With most of his work, that would be a shame, but if Who Am I? represents Chan's pre-Rush Hour direction, it would be appropriate. In some ways difficult to distinguish from a standard American B-grade action film, Who Am I? is a bit too light on the usual Chan touches to really distinguish itself. Chan plays a top-secret operative, named Jackie Chan, who develops amnesia and takes up residence with a friendly African tribe after an attempt to assassinate him goes wrong. While this leads both to scenes of Chan attired in native garb and a moment in which the angst-ridden, identity-crisis-stricken star shouts the movie's title to the sky, it also paves the way for a lot of sub-Clancy spy intrigue. What's worse, the real Chan-style action doesn't start until about halfway through the film. But when it does, it features a scene in which Chan kicks ass, literally, while wearing wooden shoes, which ought to tell you right away whether or not you'll want to see Who Am I? It's not a great Jackie Chan movie, but it's still a Jackie Chan movie, and for anyone who's ever wanted to see Chan fight dandily attired villains high atop the skyline of beautiful downtown Rotterdam, it ought to do just fine.


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