Who Am I? | aka Nobody (1998) Review

"Who Am I?" Japanese DVD Cover

"Who Am I?" Japanese DVD Cover

Director: Jackie Chan, Benny Chan
Writer: Jackie Chan, Susan Chan
Producer: Barbie Tung
Cast: Jackie Chan, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ron Smerczak, Kwan Yung, Ron Smoorenburg, Michael Ian Lambert, Paul Andreovski, Steve Brettingham, Kane Kosugi, Ken Lo
Running Time: 108 min.

By Vic Nguyen

Hot on the heels of the lackluster Mr. Nice Guy, Jackie churns out this little wonder that recalls some of the good ole days. Jackie plays his usual self named character who goes on a secret mission, but falls out of a helicopter and gets amnesia. He wakes up, finds himself in an African tribe, and utters the words Who Am I. The tribes think that that is his name, so they now refer to him as that. Who Am I then finds himself chased down by various orginizations that want him dead.

Who Am I? is a very entertaining film that homages some of the earlier great Jackie films. For example, Jackie gets cuffed but tries to make an escape, and so he does ala Project A 2. Also, that super flexible American guy mirrors some of Ken Lo’s exact moves that were featured in Drunken Master 2. The action sequences are some of Jackie’s best in years. The car chase sequence is one of his best ones, and the fights are nothing short of amazing, even the minor ones are great. The highlight fight sequence is, of course, the last one, where Jackie takes on 2 guys at the same time. This fight ranks as one of Jackie’s best. The best stunts is the ones where Jackie slides down that building and the one where Jackie gets chased up a tree by a lion.

Overall, Who Am I is Jackie’s best film in years and proves that this 43 year old man still has it in him.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 9/10

By Numskull

Anybody who thinks Steven Seagal’s stuff is the epitome of action cinema should be made to watch this movie Clockwork Orange-style and then write “Fuck Hollywood” 500 times on a single sheet of paper with a little stub of a No. 2 pencil.

The plot here is stronger than in most JC flicks, and as such there is little action in the first half of the movie. The whole time, I bore the hype in mind and felt confident that it would get better. I don’t normally gloat but hot damn was I right. Jackie gets to kick ass in the streets of Rotterdam while wearing wooden shoes. Then there’s a car chase that renders the one in WHEELS ON MEALS impotent with shame.

And then there’s the rooftop fight with not one but TWO villains who make those faggoty punks in RUMBLE IN THE BRONX look like Miss America contestants (not much of a stretch, upon reflection…). I had already read that this fight was a refreshing departure from the feeble-ass finales of RUMBLE, FIRST STRIKE, and MR. NICE GUY. So, I expected a decent brawl with some stunts and props like the ones that often pop up in the middle of Jackie’s movies. What I got was just about the greatest all-out, no-fucking-around, go-for-broke fight scene it has ever been my near-orgasmic pleasure to witness. Seven and a half minutes of GOOD fighting, not like in Drunken fucking Master where the action stops every ten seconds so Jackie can make a face or fart or whatever. There’s a little bit of humor in this fight but it doesn’t detract from its intensity in the slightest. The only problem is that it looks sped up a bit, but unlike Mr. O, I don’t mind this much if it’s used in moderation.

Minor gripes: First half hour or so could have used some spicing up, the ending seems a bit rushed and incomplete (say it ain’t so…), and the part where Jackie yells “WHOOOOOOO AMMMMM IIIIIIIIII?!?!?” to everyone within earshot was just too lame to be believed.

P.S.: As I type this, I have been without sleep for 37 hours, so any mouths issuing complaints about the comparative lack of humor in this review will be directed to my crotch.

Numskull’s Rating: 9/10

By Dan-O

I think we can all agree that Rumble in the Bronx, First Strike, Operation Condor, Mr. Nice Guy ect. all had their respective shining moments, and were cute and fun and light-hearted and, well, whatever… according to the raw dollar figures, the good ol’ U S of A, for the most part, couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about these movies, or Jackie in particular. Most people simply cannot be entertained in this country, and what they DO consider to be entertaining, well, how much money did “Jungle 2 Jungle” make?… Really? I see. Gimme the goddamn gun; I’m outta here… screw this place!! >click< *BLAMMO*!

Actually, while I don’t have much respect for my fellow Big Mac quaffing North American’s taste in movies, I can’t really blame the poor schmos for passing up most of Jackie’s U.S. theatrical releases, because every last one of ’em was mediocrity gumbo. WHO AM I? is NOT mediocre, nor is it gumbo. Here’s my analogy, try to keep up; those movies I mentioned in the first paragraph are scurrying little gnomes, screaming in bloodshot terror, and WHO AM I? is a mighty giant standing around the outskirts of their peaceful village and urinating on those poor, diminutive, innocent people. Could I have put that in a more genteel way? No.

This movie, if I may be so blunt, kicks all 31 flavors of ass (flavours for you Brits out there). Any nagging complaints? Well, I do kinda-sorta feel there should’ve been more scenes of Jackie and the African tribe. Actually, there probably were, as I’ve seen a photos of a scene where a bushman teaches Jackie the pleasures of poking a stick into an ant hill with the intention of finding and consuming only the plumpest, juiciest biting insects. I thought (foolishly) that there’d be an epilogue where WhoamI goes back to the tribe and gives the kid back his compass (Jackie promised to return it), which would’ve brought the movie full circle. But there wasn’t, and that’s OK, because of one little line dialogue, the best line in the whole friggin’ flick, that made everything all right, and it goes like this, “Feels Good?!”. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Q: “But Dan-O, while I enjoyed your blathering soapbox speech disguised as a movie review, how do I know you’re not just over exaggerating like you did with that stank-ass first Drunken Master 2 review? Man, was that ripe! I mean, are you jivein’ my ass or what?!”

A: No sir, I wouldn’t think of jivein’ your ass (or doing anything else with your ass, whilst were on the subject). This movie is The Real Deal. Forget you ever saw First Strike or Rumble in the Bowels. Forget them; and cute and campy as they were, just forget them. This is the one you’ve been sitting on your hands for. This is the movie you have prayed to the porcelain god for. Blee’ da hype. Trust us, believe our every word, and don’t question for a minute that we would steer you wrong, you impressionable, trusting little lemmings. We know what’s best for you. This movie can cure cancer. Betcha didn’t know that did ya? It’s true, ’cause some guy who said he was a doctor told me so. The guy stole my wallet, but he was wearing a stethoscope, and if that ain’t proof enough for ya, then go watch “Fire Down Below” and grow a few brain tumors. Peace man.

Dan-O’s Rating: 9.5/10

By Ro

As I sat thru the first 10-15 minutes or so of this movie, I caught myself waiting for the action/fighting to start. Then I relaxed and really got into it. I love a film that has me asking, “What the HELL is going on?”. I mean in a good – curious, intrigued sort of way; not the exasperated, start plotting elaborate torture scenarios for the screenwriter sort of way. They gave us just enough information so we were one step ahead of Jackie, but still unsure of the ultimate plot. Worked for me!

Much has been said about the action and fighting, so I’ll just add that I agree with all the good stuff. The car chase, handcuff and clog scenes were great and the final fight was AWESOME! Man, do I love a guy who can kick!

I had to take 1/2 point off for some incredibly lame dialogue (the ‘Friendship’s song between the 2 bad guys for a painful example) and equally lame acting. Where did they find the guys for the initial CIA boardroom scene? It couldn’t have been a SAG call – no way these people have their union cards! As for the reporter, I actually cheered when Jackie said, “You’re just so young.”! Did anybody card this chick? Is she even of legal drinking age? During the ‘handcuff removal, break the code’ scene, she and the car racer looked and sounded like a couple of valley girls harassing a favorite uncle. If he wanted somebody young, he should have cast the little girl from Rush Hour. At least she can act! Also, did I miss something – or did they cut out an important scene where he finds out he has no fingerprints! It gets mentioned casually, by the racing girl in the above mentioned scene.

Other than those negatives. WOW! Got to see! (Watch the outtakes for Jackie teaching the African children ‘The Macarena’)

Ro’s Rating: 9.5.10

By Dembone

I had been anxiously awaiting the US release of ‘Who Am I?’ for months and rented it the day of it’s release. I WASN’T disappointed. I believe it lives up to the hype it’s recieved on this site. There really wasn’t a dull moment. I don’t know why I always expect Chan movies to have plot… This one certainly didn’t, but it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the film, Jackie himself sums up the plot of just about all of his movies… “My Fadda always tell me, always do woss right and stop doze who don’t.”

The main variation among his movies are the girls, of which ‘Who Am I’ has probably my favorite. Not whiny, stereotypical whimps like ‘Condor.’ The reporter is an interesting ethnic mixture. Can’t act her way out of a wet paper sack, but cute. One thing though, Jackie is looking a little tired. ‘Who am I?’ was great, probably best JC flick of the 90’s, but the energy dropped about 30% from ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’ I can’t quite put my finger on it. Well, I’m enjoying it while we can. He can’t do these outrageous movies forever!

Dembone’s Rating: 10/10

By James H.

What was the budget for “Rush Hour”? $35 million, right? As I take a glance through the little pamphlet for the “Who Am I?” DVD, I see it was made for $20 million. Now, I ask, which film looked better? Yup, “Who Am I?” did. Although, there are some scenes in which the low budget shows through (the explosion at the beginning).

“Who Am I?” is, without a doubt, one of Jackie’s best films. After being somewhat disappointed with “Mr. Nice Guy”, fans can finally see what a Jackie Chan film really is. Unfortunately, the execs at Columbia/TriStar did not want to take such a risk releasing the film theatrically, and I can see their reasoning behind it.

Now, to the film. I’m sure you’ve read the synopsis at the top of the page, so I’ll spare you. What is unusual about this film is the attempt at a plot. And because it tries to have more substance, it runs 108 minutes long, making it the longest Jackie Chan film to be released in the United States. It’s a shame really, I’m sure “Twin Dragons”, “Thunderbolt”, and “Police Story 2” will all be cut down to 90 minutes or less. Although a shorter “Twin Dragons” might be better.

So anyway, this film was directed by both Jackie Chan and Benny Chan. I was very impressed with the direction. I loved how the camera circled around Jackie when he yelled out “WHO AM I?” The film is very well paced, too. It kept my attention, but there were some parts I was thinking to myself, “When’s he gonna kick some ass?” But all in due time. The fights started off good and just kept getting better. The fight with the clogs on the streets of Rotterdam was great. Nothing can prepare the viewer for the finale. Jackie fights two guys on the roof of a skyscraper, and it in nothing short of fan-fucking-tastic. The camera work is phenomenal, and the editing is flawless.

Again, I was impressed that this film was made with such a small budget. The film takes the viewer from breathtaking South Africa, to the gorgeous skyline of The Netherlands. All the while looking like a Hollywood film. Ah, if only all JC flicks had this quality.

I bought the DVD, and it’s great. There are very few features. It has both widescreen and full frame formats, but I don’t see why anyone would want to watch the full frame version. There is also a very cool trailer, and scene selections. I hope in the future Columbia/TriStar acquires the rights to more of Jackie’s film and treats them with the care they deserve.

James H’s Rating: 10/10

By Jordan

This is undoubtedly one of the best Jackie Chan movies of the nineties, maybe even one of the best Jackie Chan movies ever. There was nothing lacking in this excellent movie. The fights and stunts were all up to Jackie’s high standards, it is very funny and it contains something that has been lacking in Jackie Chan films since “Drunken Master II”- the end 1-on-1 fight with the main villain (or in this case, villains). It was excellent watching him battle it out on the roof of a 21 storey glass and steel office building in Rotterdam with Ron Smoorenburg, the expert kicker, and that other guy who is an expert puncher.

The superstunt was even more spectacular than ever, with Jackie sliding down the side of the building-which is sloped 45 degrees-all the way to the ground. As I said, one of the best Jackie Chan movies of the nineties and one of his best ever.

Jordan’s Rating: 10/10

By Eric

I don’t understand why this wasn’t released in the U.S., because it’s a better movie than any other of his U.S. releases (except maybe for Rush Hour, which is more well made and funny but not as exciting). Of course, it made over $200 million in Asia, so what’s another $30 million anyway? This had good action and stunts, and it’s even more amazing that you realize Jackie Chan is forty-four years old. Watch for the part when he is handcuffed in the back, and he jumps over the handcuffs! The final stunt proves Jackie’s brilliance (and insanity), but it isn’t his only great stunt. The rope/barrel part is tight, too. The only seriously bad thing in this movie is the acting of the reporter. She seems like someone who was randomly chosen for the role, cause she can’t act at all.

Eric’s Rating: 8/10

By Hendri Liato

WHO AM I? is a return to a more serious Jackie Chan vehicle, kinda like his CRIME STORY which is a mighty good attempt by JC to do a gritty, realistic thriller. This film is more Hollywood-ize than RUMBLE IN THE BRONX and FIRST STRIKE, complete with a generic shadow conspiracy plot among corrupt government agents, a retrieval of “something important” in a Third World country, and fanciful location shooting (this time the heavenly Rotterdam). There is even a serious existential discourse about identity crisis, supposedly mirrors Chan’s real life (But the shot of Chan screaming an unconvincing “Who am I?!!!” as the camera pans majestically is a little too cheesy for my taste).

Directed by Benny Chan (BIG BULLET, MOMENT OF ROMANCE) the film is a little flat and too polished, like a warmed-up HBO-made thrillers, maybe even worse. The supporting actresses play a little more pro-active roles this time and that’s a refreshing in a Chan’s movie. Yamamato Mira fares better than Michelle Ferre, easy on the eyes and certainly exotic mix of French and Japanese, whose line-reading is as convincing as her lame portrayal of a supposedly tough and smart journalist. Ferre’s performance is so abysmal here that someone needs to be blamed for it. And we know Chan has a penchant for courting pretty young things to co-star opposite him.

There is one nifty and outlandish car chase in the middle and some decent fights along the way. The final fight on top of a city skyscraper is underwhelming at best. There’s no way this tops or even equals the mythic final of Jackie-vs-Ken-Lo brawl in DRUNKEN MASTER 2. Even the so-called climactic stunt only looks good on paper. When Chan is done scaling the side of a very tall building, a great looking stunt anyday, it has that no-big-deal feel to it. WHO AM I? is a good vehicle for Chan (though he looks tired here) and for once, the caucasian actors “act” adequately and there is a semblance of a coherent plotting. But then, it also takes away some of Chan’s old magic.

Hendri Liato’s Rating: 6/10

By Dark Fury

Before getting a chance to see this film, I thought in my head, “Which vehicle will Jackie use to run over the main bad guy at the end this time?”, after I finished viewing it i thought ,”Holy shit!, Jackie is going back to kick ass fight scenes at the end!”. This film was awsome. It is the second best Jackie Chan movie I have every seen, (“Drunken Master 2″being the first ofcourse), though in time I may like this one a little better due to the fact that it has a more interesting plot. Whenever I see a Jackie Chan movie what I look for first is fight scenes because no one does em better then Chan…Though a few of them were very short but they were great anyways and the ending made up for everything. Truly a classic. My favorite part was Jackie kicking ass with handcuffs on. I was like, ” Damn,what cant he do?”. What I dont understand is how this was not released in U.S. theatres? Oh well, I guess we have to wait and see how “Rush Hour” is Bottom line is: this movie rocks!

Dark Fury’s Rating: 9/10 (It would be a perfect ten if i didnt see “Drunken Master 2”)

By Shazbot!

Who am I? is the first JC film that looks like a Hollywood film. It has location shooting, stunning cinematography, and decent acting by Anglo actors. The downside is less Jackie. Normal are strange head scratching plot developments (WAY too convenient for the reporter to be at the car race!) However, while the viewer is denied quanity, he is not denied quality. I found myself hitting the rewind button after every stunt or fight scene. Even scaling up and down walls seems impressive here, although its old hat. The impressive scenes involve fighting with clogs in Rotterdam, an escape from a security office in Africa (Jackie coils himself in a rope and unfurls from the second story to escape), a humorous auto getway in a confined alley, and a fight scene atop a skyscraper that I’d rate up with Benny “the Jet” in “Wheels on Meals” (you’ll be amazed at one fighter’s flexibility).

Although purists will be disappointed, it is entertaining, and I rank it right behind Operation Condor as my favorite for repeat viewing. I’m disappointed this is a straight to video (by way of HBO Sep 11 8:45 pm CST), because this is a theatrical quality movie ( and much better than Mr Nice Guy). I viewed this movie on a Hong Kong DVD I purchased through the internet. The Cantonese track is majority in English, but you must play subtitles to understand the story development while he is with the tribe.

Shazbot!’s Rating: 10/10

By Wei Xin

The plot for Who AmI? was mediocre, but then again I don’t watch Jackie Chan movies for the excellent plot twists or witty dialogue. Getting “adopted” by an African tribe was amusing though. Anyway, the stunts and fighting were pretty cool. Fighting in clogs must’ve been pretty tough for Jackie. It’s weird for me to say this, but seeing Jackie jump off of buildings is starting to get “boring”. The highlight for me was seeing the showdown at the end with the two martial artists (in nice suits too!)The first guy was pretty good. He seemed to be some kind of Chinese Shaolin boxer. (30 seconds!) Getting beat up with your own suit jacket and tie must be embarrassing. You have to see it to believe it. The second guy was even better. This is the first time I’ve seen a Tae Kwon Do specialist really show his stuff in a movie. This fight scene between Jackie and the two martial artists make this movie a must see

Wei Xin’s Rating: 8/10

By Aloho

Uh, I don’t know where to start. I won’t mention the plot synopsis since you can just read it above. What I will mention is how much it SUCKED! Never since “Thunderbolt” have I experienced such the dumbest storyline ever. All the subplots and the deception and the betrayal are portrayed at their worst. First, you have Chan and his case of amnesia. That I can deal with. So then, they have to spring a whole bunch of CIA guys to kill him. Somehow, this is connected to a hyper energy rock like “Flubber”. And the story goes on with breaks here and there for the fights etc… Then after all this, it goes into a disk possession sort of case that has no meaning than an excuse to see Jackie kick someone’s ass. Maybe I just don’t understand, because the creators try to make it so convoluted until they say “Screw it, lets just have all these guys that want a disk.” It’s just another extended chase film like “Mr. Nice Guy”. But this time, they include all those plot twist thingy’s that do absolutely nothing but make it drag on longer.

It doesn’t set up to a finale, the latter of the film is a whole new ballgame. And the script. It was so basic and stereotype. I won’t blame the acting for being bad, but that’s because it sounds like a 5 year old wrote it. On the plus side is the film’s sheer enjoyment and charm. It moves at a steady pace I might as well add. This is one of the most fun and intweeging films of Jackie Chan I’ve sat through. It’s just plain fun. When you need to forget about you’re surrounding enviroment and enter the realm of brainless plots and high intensity acion, this is that movie. It starts with high-tech covert operation. That just paints the background. In the first half hour, Jackie is with a tribe. It is so well filmed, you forget you are watching an action film. Jackie still shows off his talent. He climbs up a couple of trees and does other little tricks such as kicking a flashlight out of a womans hand and catching it. But this is literally nothing compared with whats to come. After an inane switch to the city, you really get a treat.

The non stop fights and chases we expect of our hero. One car chase in the middle was good, but I wouldn’t go so far as calling it brilliant like the one’s in other films. In fact, it stoops down to a lower level of just driving around away from other cars. Just something I noticed, it doesn’t seem odd that the good guys are in a white car and the others all drive black cars. The best way I can put the chase is that it was smart but wattery. It wasn’t crazy. It was actually in a way, realistic. On to the fights, which is what saved the movie. The first one, Jackie is in handcuffs and he uses chairs to cripple his enemies. Running off to a hotel, a couple of thugs try to catch him, closely resembling what happened at the hotel in “First Strike”. Later, Jackie wears clogs. This one has a funny theme to it, stepping on peoples feet. And finally, what I’ve been looking foward to is the finale. We’ve waited years for a movie with a finale fight and stunt, and this one gets an A in my book. The rooftop thing was exhausting, and definatly a fight to watch over and over. All these fights make up a third of the movie, and really show you how cool this movie is. This is the fun stuff. It is very witty too.

The way Jackie spins is really cool and makes you love this movie. Who Am I? is also full of all those little insignifigant tricks that make us say something like “Wow cool yipdee I love jackie chan” This is a good Jackie Chan film and I highly recommend it, however, I cannot call it a classic such as the “Police Story” and other films like that. Sadly, it’s attempt to be good at the story and acting fails, watch it for the totally insane fights. It defines action in a whole new way. It is hard making a review for a story so bad, but the best action of any of his films in the 90’s. However, plot is never really a factor in Jackie Chan’s films. Fortunatly, it doesn’t interfer with the action such as “Thunderbolt”. To summarize my summary, it’s best action of any Jackie Chan film. It’s the worst plot of any Jackie Chan film. Department of redundancy department.

Aloho’s Rating: 8/10

By Chris E.

This was probably one of Jackie’s strangest movies ever. He plays a CIA agent who loses his memory after falling out of a helicopter. When he awakes, he finds himself among an African tribe. They ask him his name. He keeps saying “Who am I?”, so that’s what they call him. Slowly, he starts to regain his memory. Well, it’s a good thing because suddenly all of these people are trying to kill him. That’s the basic premise. Absurd as usual. How’s the action? Pretty damm good. Although there’s no fighting until thirty minutes into the film, there’s a good deal of it from there ’till the end. One fight scene has Jackie handcuffed the entire time where he does some amazing things(ala Project A II). Another fight scene has him using wooden clogs.

And the best part of all, the finale features an extended fight scene with Jackie going against two guys. First one at a time then both at once. Some of it was really over the top but still very impressive. There are two great stunts featuring Jackie unraveling like a yo-yo while he jumps off a platform. You have to see this one to believe it. The other stunt is similar to Project A II when he runs down a falling wall. This time he slides, tumbles, and runs down the side of a very tall building. There’s also a pretty cool car chase.

Some minor complaints other than the crappy plot: His two female co-stars are terrible, I don’t think I’ve ever seen worse acting although the bad dialogue didn’t help. The movie ends a little abrubtly. There’s an attempt at some special effects, I don’t think I have to tell you how that turned out. Aside from this, it was a pretty good movie. Plenty of action and it never dragged. Although at times, you shake your head and say, “What the hell was Jackie thinking?”

Chris E’s Rating: 8/10

By Jim Carrey

Well, well, well…look who has come back to making awesome films like the rest of the HK cinema. Who Am I? is such a damn good movie, it is one of Jackie’s best films technically. This time he went out and got himself a great director again for the first time since “Thunderbolt”. “Mr. Nice Guy” & “OUATIC & A” prove that Sammo is no longer great, just good. The director of this film is Benny Chan, who directed “Big Bullet”, “A Moment of Romance”, & “The Magic Crane”. The movie is also given the chance to develop as well, it clocks in at a suprising 115 mins.

The plot is actually competent for the first time since “Thunderbolt”. The stunts and fights are spectacular! Since “Thunderbolt”, the gwailos have some sense of acting. That’s right, the unknown female leads are actually quite cute and enjoyable this time, he learned after Mr. Nice Guy. This film also has his most dangerous stunt ever, even more so than “Project A”. The best part to us Americans is that the movie is in English, the whole entire thing. This is live too, not a dub, so we hear Jackie’s own voice. I won’t spoil anything, just see the film.

Jim Carrey’s Rating: 8/10

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