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Jackie Chan: My Story
Year: 1998
Jackie Chan looks to conquer Hollywood
Director: Jackie Chan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Sylvester Stallone
The Skinny: Documentary of the life and work of Hong Kong's biggest star.
     Jackie Chan: My Story chronicles the life of Jackie Chan beginning with his birth, and ending in 1998 with Jackie poised on the brink of his current success in America.
The piece begins with a great opening montage composed of some of Chan's best fights and stunts over the years. Watching this montage makes the viewer realize the extent to which time has taken its toll on Chan. His more recent films have him relying more on wire work and stunt doubles whereas the clips from the "old" days show a young, spry Jackie Chan leaping up walls in top form. It's quite a sight to behold and will likely make you want to dust off some of his old videos.
     Following the introduction, we are told about Chan's childhood at the Peking Opera school. His story is fleshed out with interviews of fellow schoolmate Sammo Hung, father Charles Chan, and Jackie Chan himself. He basically tells the same stories we've all heard relate on countless talk show appearances and in his autobiographical book "I am Jackie Chan." Among these are his stories of the long hours of practice and the beatings by the master at the Peking Opera school. Accentuating these stories are clips from the film Painted Faces, which starred Sammo Hung as the cruel master.
     My Story then moves through Chan's days as a stuntman, and shows many wonderful clips of him working his butt off as an unknown stunt player. After an unsuccessful attempt to become the next Bruce Lee (which was orchestrated by director Lo Wei), Chan hit it big with Snake in Eagle's Shadow. With that film, Chan truly found his niche as a comedian, and he hasn't looked back since. Each of his newer films was more successful than the last, though there were exceptions.
     One particular exception was a brief run during the eighties in a series of bad American movies. In particular, new light is shed on The Protector, with clips from Chan's re-cut HK version shown alongside the truncated American cut. When viewed side-by-side, there is no question that Chan's version is superior. Long time fans will feel vindicated for preferring his Hong Kong films over his American ones.
     From there, the documentary shifts gears and takes some time to focus on Chan's various injuries and brushes with death. Watching them all edited together really makes you appreciate how hard Chan has worked over the years. You're not likely to find an American action star willing to endure this kind of pain for his audience. The fact that he currently only does "most" of his own stunts is a privilege he's earned from his years of hard work.
     Much of the interview material throughout the documentary with Chan's friends, co-workers, and family members will be interesting for the uninitiated, but for long time fans, there really isn't anything new. The same old stories are told of how hard Chan works and of how dedicated he is to his craft. At one point Chan himself admits that he has neglected his wife and son for his career. However, he stops short of dignifying the rumors surrounding his personal life. The issues of his alleged extramarital affairs and illegitimate daughter are avoided altogether. Jackie Chan has always been a master at controlling his image and to criticize him for doing so would be a moot point. Jackie Chan has made some terrific movies, and that's where the main focus of Jackie Chan: My Story lies. Forget James Brown. Jackie Chan is the hardest working man in show business. For old and new fans alike, My Story is a good way to kill a couple of hours with him. (Magicvoice 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Megastar/Media Asia
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

image courtesy of Mega Star Video Distribution, Ltd.

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