Saturday, December 6, 2014

Who Am I?

Wo shi shei; action comedy, China/ South Africa, 1998; D: Jackie Chan, S: Jackie Chan, Ron Smerczak, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto

Somewhere in the South African desert, Jackie awakens after a head injury in a village of a local tribe, and cannot remember who he is. He decides to head for civilization and encounters Yuki at a desert race. In Johannesburg, he is contacted by a man who claims to be from CIA, Morgan, who questions him but gives up when he realizes he suffers from amnesia. Jackie teams up with Christine, a woman who claims to be a reporter, and remembers he was part of a secret unit that was disposed off in a helicopter after they had scientists kidnapped to create a mineral that whose energy can be used as a weapon. Jackie and Christine travel to Rotterdam and apprehend Morgan, who betrayed the CIA in order to get rich by selling the mineral. Christine herself turns out to be from the CIA.

Another strong example of Jackie Chan's comic and martial arts abilities, this humorous forerunner to "The Bourne Identity" excels the most in virtuoso choreographed action sequences which eclipse many other action films of its time. "Who Am I?" is a super fast, dynamic and engaging film done in the 'good old school' way, i.e. with a classic narrative and good and bad guys, whereas the crystal clear cinematography is fantastic, and the only aspect that disappoints is the pale music and a lack of a proper resolution of the storyline (the fast pace may have fooled some viewers to forget about the fact that the second female heroine, Yuki, simply "disappears" in the last third of the film, while Jackie never returns to visit the African kid who helped him when he was in his village). The story is all over the place, but it is just a front to have Chan do some fighting, anyway, and some of his stunts may again cause dizziness - the "slide" down the tipped roof of the building; the humorous scene where Chan climbs up the top of a tree to escape a lion that climbs half way, as well; using a jacket to capture a villain's hands and tie them into a not on his head; the way Chan saves a dog while a piano and a glass cube crash in front and behind him... The locations in South Africa are very aesthetic, as well. A small jewel here is the very charismatic Michelle Ferre as the main heroine Christine, one of the best actresses the producers were dumb enough never to use again.


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