Who Am I?
Dir: Jackie Chan
+ Benny Chan
Star: Jackie Chan
, Michelle Ferre, Yamamoto Mirai, Ron Smerczak
This marks Jackie's first directorial credit since Operation Condor, and it's unsurprising, given this, that it's his best since Drunken Master 2 (which he largely directed, uncredited). It's thus a real shame it was almost buried here, especially when five year-old videos like Twin Dragons get the full promotional push. Jackie is a special services soldier, the lone survivor of a job in South Africa, and thus the target for elimination. He's lost
his identity but, boy, has he remembered how to fight. And, indeed, do everything else: "No-one pays to watch me walk", he once said, and why take the stairs when you can use the bannisters? He moves like liquid metal, evading as much as brawling, though it builds to a beautiful roof-top confrontation with a lightning puncher and a super kicker.
Interesting to compare this with The Matrix, which has its action choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping, who went to the same Peking Opera school as Jackie. The two form the yin & yang of action cinema: where one is dark and intense, the other is light and fluffy; one is information heavy and talky, the other is plot- and dialogue-free; one is laden with jaw-dropping special effects, the other pnly has Jackie himself. About the only common factor is that both star people unlikely to need room on the mantelpiece come Oscar time. The problem with The Matrix is largely one of pacing, alternating indigestible lumps of exposition with breathless action. As Chris has already pointed out, it's hard to focus on one or other element, but I also feel it's a good half-hour too long, and it'll take another viewing before I decide whether it's intelligent or merely obscurist.
No such problems with Who am I? which has absolutely no pretensions in this area at all. There's perhaps 15 minutes of set-up, and the remainder is a procession of delights, both in physical comedy and action; a slightly lame final stunt is only a mild let-down. In terms of sheer entertainment, I think Jackie's is perhaps more successful than Keanu's no expense spared behemoth.