Who Am I? (1998)

whpWhoAmI

Kung Fu fun and laughs for everyone.  Jackie Chan is a secret agent recovering from amnesia and battles to uncover the truth behind his last assignment and, more importantly, his identity.

Beware the following will contain plot detail.

When it’s time to kick back and not watch something too involved, what do the critics watch? To throw in an analogy, what do professional chefs eat after working in the kitchen. Like a decent burger joint for chefs, Jackie Chan has long been a safe bet for quality entertainment dodging the hit-and-miss of trendy comedies or summer superhero films.

Beginning in an un-named jungle in Africa, scientists who have discovered a deadly weapon are abducted in a helicopter by a special forces unit, one of whom is codenamed Chan (Chan). It subsequently crashes leaving no survivors, except for Chan who suffers memory loss and, in full slapstick fashion, gets adopted by a local tribe and dubbed “who am I”. Hot on his tracks are the CIA led by Morgan (Smerczak), who are also after the weapon, and a reporter Stark (Ferre), who takes interest in Chan’s story. Eventually he makes his way into civilisation in order to piece together his lost identity and the fateful assignment.

Writing about the plot now, it sounds a bit like the Bourne trilogy (highly recommended) but taken much less seriously as there’s comedy infused, as is usual with Jackie Chan films. Also as with countless others of his works, there’s first class stunt work, at one point sliding down a skyscraper which I found unforgettably daring, plus an iconic rooftop fight and a crowd pleasing car chase. For me, it comprehensively ticks off the list of action must-haves. In revisiting this film, there was bonus nostalgia for me as I was reminded of the video store where renting a 90s produced martial arts film would mean boatloads of pumped up action. This is one of the many gateway drugs into the kung fu genre and although “Who am I?” goes unanswered, it resoundingly answers the question of “Worth watching?”.

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