APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Jackie Chan: My Story (1998)

April 7: Jackie Day — Celebrate Jackie Chan’s birthday!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Jackie Chan: My Story coincided with the release of his autobiography I Am Jackie Chan: A Life in Action. The documentary chronicles the life of Jackie Chan beginning at infancy and ending in 1998 with Jackie poised on the brink of huge success in American with release of the first Rush Hour.

It begins with a great opening montage composed of some of Jackie’s best fights and stunts over the years. The montage makes the viewer realize the extent to which time has taken its toll on Jackie’s body. As time passed, he relied more on wire work and stunt doubles whereas the clips from the “old” days show a young, spry Jackie leaping up walls in top form. It’s quite a sight to behold and will likely make you want to dust off some of the old videos.

Following the introduction, we are told about Jackie’s childhood at the Peking Opera school. History is fleshed out through interviews with fellow school-mate Sammo Hung, Jackie’s father Charles Chan, and Jackie himself telling basically the same stories we’ve all heard him tell before on countless talk show appearances over the years. The stories of the long hours of practice and the beatings by the master are inter-cut with clips from the film Painted Faces (1988) in which Sammo played as the schoolmaster, Yu Jim Yuen.

The film moves through Jackie’s days as a stuntman showing many wonderful clips of him working his butt off as an unknown continuing through the phase of his career where director Lo Wei tried unsuccessfully to turn Jackie into the next Bruce Lee.

It’s not until Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978) that we really see why Jackie became a star. With this film, he truly found his niche as a comedian and hasn’t looked back since. In Hong Kong, from then on, each of his films was more successful than the last except for his brief stint in several bad American movies in the early 1980s. In particular, new light is shed on The Protector (1985.) When viewed side by side, Jackie’s version is superior. Long-time fans will feel vindicated for preferring the Hong Kong versions over the American.

From there, the documentary shifts gears and takes some time to focus on Jackie’s various injuries and brushes with death. Watching them all edited together really makes you appreciate how hard Jackie has worked over the years.

At one point Jackie himself admits he neglected his wife and son for his career but avoids the issue of his extra-marital affairs and his illegitimate daughter altogether. Since then, accusations of domestic abuse and neglect have plagued him. Jackie has always been a master at controlling his image and this film is no exception. The primary focus of Jackie Chan: My Story is in his work, not his personal life. For old and new fans alike, it’s a good way to kill a couple of hours.

It’s on YouTube for free here:

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