Jackie Chan "Who Am I?"
"Who Am I?", the, 'pour hot water on it and you have the epitome of existential action-chase thrillers', is a tour de force for Jackie Chan as writer, director, and actor of live Anime, and displays, nay flaunts, Chan's genius as the Baryshnikov of stunts, clown-prince of farce, and cunning Odysseus of the dire situation.
Chan, a master emeritus of automotive mayhem who lives life as a chase scene, creates solutions to complex and even impossible physical circumstance in unfolding the eternally evolving cliff-hanger. He is so clearly a genius at integrating the improbable into the story, that the film becomes a vehicle in which satire characterized by dialogue that mocks the situation, has Chan, playing a flawed, kind of stupid, but certainly lovable Huck Finn of the Pan Asian world, a plucky hero in the losing quest for the elusive grail of justice and fair play
Our hero is an island of bewildered calm in a chaotic sea of dangerously frenetic characters, united in their evil resolve to eliminate him and as the chase ebbs and flows, his issue remains, "Who am I?", as he remains ever true to the existential inquiry that the film poses while continually re-proving that he is both, tough AND resourceful, albeit, at bottom, everyman as an impossible klutz, often verging on dorkiness.
His plastic face simultaneously registers every nuance of fear, fright, chagrin, uncertainty, as he careens from environ to environ, from the jungles and deserts of South Africa to the boulevards and canals of Amsterdam, to be chased in wooden clogs through a brilliantly colorful impromptu street festival. From morning to late, late at night, the relentless chase ensues while the hopelessly effervescent Jackie plays an ever diminishing game of catch up with a sub rosa world of bad guys who live a parallel existence of high tech criminal activity, doing what bad guys have always done pool resources to rule the world, and exterminate the rest of us.
So, not a lot of people know this, but, really outrageous stuff is going on right under the very noses of the hoi-polloi and bourgeoisie and THAT is the state of consciousness that Chan's character is awakening to.
Jackie, look behind you!
His directing of action is impeccable, if there is any weakness in his formidable arsenal of tools, perhaps it may be found in the level of line reading by the so-called actors who support Chan, which, being generous, can only be contrasted with that level of acting approached by startled porn stars who find themselves in a film where they are cooperating to carry a story line, and find, to their chagrin, that their scene is expected to move the greater story forward while we thought it was only about sex. Good porn is about the ACTING. And so is a good Jackie Chan movie.
In his movie making vision, over and over again, in scene after scene, Chan reveals that he is a Marxist of the Groucho variety. And, after the summum momentum mano a mano martial arts scene in which Chan's brilliance as choreographer dominates, his character has his epiphany and fully arcs to Jackie becoming the chaser, no longer absorbed in his question, "Who am I?", but rather, is now lost in a greater cause, to save the world, recapture the MacGuffin, and speak his everyman's philosophy to only use your powers for good, not evil.
And with that, he makes the gesture that resolves the emptiness and meaninglessness of any interpretation of his drama, and flies off in the setting sun of the last true hero.
And then... The cherry on the top of the meringue on top of the shards of titanium sundae that is the life of the live Manga-boy of action adventure; outtakes, which provide background the end title credits. My favorite moment is Jackie teaching 'native' African children the Macarena. This man is COMMITTED to your entertainment, and I, for one, say thank you, Jackie Chan.
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