Starring Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Charles Chan, Stanley Tong, Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, Sammo Hung, Joe Eszterhas, Arthur Hiller, Martin Lawrence, Michael Warrington, David Wu
Directed by Jackie Chan
Expectations: I don’t know, honestly. Curious.
Whether you’re an old fan or someone just discovering the work of Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan: My Story is a great overview of his career up to the point just before Rush Hour was made. It’s pretty “fluffy,” but this light tone reflects the jovial spirit of its subject and thus works well to convey the specific charm of Jackie (especially to newcomers). Even though I’ve seen so many Jackie films, I never feel like I know the real man underneath the characters. Jackie Chan: My Story cracks that shell a bit, allowing the audience to gain an understanding of his methodology for filmmaking, as well as how his dedication to his craft has impacted other areas of his life.
Jackie Chan: My Story also does a good job of communicating what makes Jackie’s style of action stand out from others (notably American films and the work of Bruce Lee). Besides showing a bevy of wonderful clips from his Hong Kong films, a direct comparison between the two versions of the fight with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace for the end of The Protector perfectly encapsulates the key difference in style. One of the best moments comes when Jackie walks us through the creation of his on-screen snake style seen in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, showing that each movement has purpose and thought behind it. I wish I could show this doc to everyone who ever questioned my intense love and fascination with martial arts films (because according to them: “they’re all the same”).
Besides the little tidbits of info, Jackie Chan: My Story is just fun to watch. I’ve clearly been drunk on the Jackie Kool Aid for years, but I think it would be hard for anyone to deny the sheer power of the assembled clips from Jackie’s impressive body of work. And many key films — Drunken Master 2, First Strike, Rumble in the Bronx, the Lucky Star films — aren’t even represented! To see Jackie’s output distilled down and edited together into a single piece really highlights just how incredible his achievements have been. I’ve seen all the movies and I will never cease to be amazed at these clips of sheer physical genius.
My only real complaint is that Jackie Chan: My Story focuses so much on Jackie Chan that it is somewhat misleading. The film makes it seem like Jackie directed and choreographed almost all of his movies, but Sammo Hung directed and/or choreographed many of Jackie’s movies over the years (and the ’90s films are from a wide range of directors). I get that it’s a doc on Jackie, and that Jackie always has input and control over his action, but I find this oversight on the contribution of Sammo Hung (as well as the Jackie Chan Stunt Team) to be too misleading to overlook.
As a brief, simplified version of his career leading up to his American box office success, it’s about as perfect as you could ask for. It’s quite dated, but for someone like me that lived through this time, that’s more of a benefit than it would otherwise be for others. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a quick refresher/primer on the filmography of the one and only Hong Kong action master Jackie Chan!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is the 1999 Hong Kong film Gorgeous! Never seen it, hope it’s worth the wait! See ya then!