Who Am I?

Hong Kong 1998

Reviewed by Jamie Graham


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

South Africa, 1996. A team of CIA operatives unearth a rare stone that contains vast potential as a power source. They're ambushed by corrupt CIA agents and forced into a helicopter which crashes. Agent Jackie survives and awakens, suffering from amnesia, in a tribal village. He discovers the wrecked helicopter. A matchbox lying nearby has the cryptic clue "eleven down, one too many" scrawled upon it. Jackie returns to Johannesburg where he is approached by newspaper reporter Christine. Her published story on Jackie alerts the corrupt CIA operatives; they kidnap Jackie and take him to Morgan, their superior. Morgan orders Jackie's death but he escapes.

Jackie again meets up with Christine, who has worked out that "eleven down, one too many" is a code. Its meaning leads them to Morgan's headquarters in Rotterdam. Jackie sneaks into the building while Christine, who has revealed herself as a CIA agent, orchestrates 24-hour surveillance. Jackie steals a computer disc, which contains details of Morgan's attempt to sell the stone to arms dealers, and escapes. Morgan, meanwhile, absconds, only to be captured by the military forces who have surrounded the building. Jackie is told that the CIA will help him to rediscover his identity.


Jackie Chan films, like Russ Meyer movies, have a tendency to synthesise with time. Even ardent fans would have trouble recalling the finer details of each of his 70-odd works, or distinguishing the often throwaway plots which provide the thinnest of links between each signature skirmish.

In lieu of sophisticated, individual deconstructions, Chan's loyal following rely on broader criteria to personalise his movies. The most unwieldy of these consist of simply cleaving the Chinese-dialect pictures from the English-speaking ones, or disentangling the 'straight' action flicks from those tinged with slapstick. A slightly more refined - and by far the most popular - method is through the recollection of superlative moments, often in the form of pub conversations which begin with the refrain "Oh, that's the one where...". And just as Operation Condor will always be tagged through its wind-tunnel climax, Who Am I? is destined to be remembered for its stunningly choreographed rooftop finale, a three-way fight sequence that rivals anything in the history of the martial-arts movie.

Beyond the denouement, and perhaps a clownish street scuffle in which Chan fights in clogs, however, Who Am I? contains little to brand the memory. The narrative is instantly forgettable, as befits a plot about a CIA operative suffering from amnesia, and the direction - by Benny Chan (no relation) and Jackie Chan himself - is often stagnant, making the kinetic, adrenaline-pumping conclusion all the more remarkable.

Who Am I?'s structure - as crudely divided into two parts as Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - is also problematic. The first, in which Chan acts the fool in a South African tribal village, gives free rein to his Keatonesque persona, but much of the undisciplined humour veers uncomfortably close to the patronising 'look at the natives' variety found in, say, The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980). The second sees Chan chasing around Johannesburg and Rotterdam as he tries to bring a corrupt band of CIA agents to justice. Featuring James Bond-style set pieces and with Chan's hero as baffled and ensnared as any of Hitchcock's protagonists, this section is most likely to appeal to Western audiences, at whom Who Am I? is now being targeted after the success of Rush Hour (although it was actually made before Chan's lucrative US excursion).


Leonard Ho Koon-Cheung
Jackie Chan
[Sing Lung]
Susan Chan Shu-Yan
Lee Reynolds
Director of Photography
Poon Hang-Sang
Peter Cheung Yiu-Chung
Yau Chi-Wai
Production Designer
Oliver Wong Yui-Man
Nathan Wang Zongxiang
©Golden Harvest Pictures Limited
Production Company
A Golden Harvest presentation
A Leonard Ho production
Executive Producer
Barbie Tung Wan-Shut
Production Supervisor
Lee Man-Yiu
South African Production Services
Fevertree Productions
Production Co-ordinators
South African Unit:
Daniele Vernon
Rotterdam Unit:
Pieter Witte
Malaysian Unit:
William Ting (Sibu)
Production Managers
Lau Chin-Ching
Sue Woo Siu-Ling
Cheng Siu-San
South African Unit:
Barry Saint Clair
Rotterdam Unit:
Simon Jansen
Malaysian Unit:
Alan Chan
Unit Managers
South African Unit:
Duncan Douglas
Rotterdam Unit:
Paul van Esch
Location Managers
South African Unit:
Graham Grant
Gavin McJannet
Rotterdam Unit:
Bas van der Ree
Production Consultant
South African Unit:
Johan Heyns
Assistant Directors
Hui An
Kwan Shun-Fai
Cheng Kan-Fung
Leung Ha-Wai
Lam Chi-Hung
South African Unit: Costas Gavriel
Rotterdam Unit:
Arnout André dela La Porte
2nd Unit:
Cheng Wai-Ming
Script Supervisor
Fang Ho-Yuan
Rotterdam Casting
2nd Unit Directors of Photography
Yan Wai-Lung
Wong Chi-Wai
Wan Kam-Wang
Wong Yan-Chang
Tang Chun-Keung
Steadicam Operator
Rotterdam Unit:
Floris Slijbesma
Visual Effects
Fantasy Film Computer Graphics
Ting Cho-Chuen
Tang Wai-Yuk
Digital Effects Services
Asia Cine Digital Limited (Hong Kong)
Digital Effects Services
Photon Stockman
Visual Effects Designer:
Dale Duguid
Visual Effects Director:
Trevor Hawkins
Visual Effects Producer:
Daniel Harvey
Digital Artists:
Simon Dye
Jason Selfe
Derek Wentworth
Sean Heuston
Niamh Lines
Robin Cave
Visual Effects Co-ordinator:
Laraine Phillips
Special Effects
South African Unit:
Jannie Wienand
Rotterdam Unit Pyro Effects Co-ordinator
Harry Wiessenhaan
Production Designer
2nd Unit:
Wong Ka-Leng
Set Decorators
Chan Sze-Kan
Liu Yee-Man
Storyboard Artist
Rotterdam Unit:
Richard Raaphorst
Costume Designer
Thomas Chong Chi-Leung
Wardrobe Mistress
South African Unit:
Kate Abramovitz
Connie Lai Ka-Bi
Lee Tze-Din
South African Unit, Key:
Bobby van der Westhuizen
Music Producers
Ella Fairbairn
Malcolm Smith
"Ya Kuo Hu Di Ren [A Man in the Past]" by Lam Si, performed by Emil Chow Wah-Kin; "Wo Shi Shui [Who Am I?]" by Chan Mo, performed by Emil Chow Wah-Kin; "Friendship" by Nathan Wang Zongxiang
South African Unit:
Jacky Semela
Soweto Dance Theatre
Sound Design
Liam Egan
Danielle Wiessner
Sound Recordists
Gretchen Thornburn
Rotterdam Unit:
Jan-Wouter Stam
Re-recording Mixers
Roger Savage
Ian McLoughlin
Paul Pirola
Steve Burgess
Soundfirm Australia
Ka-Ho Recording Studio
Sound Effects Editors
James Harvey
Gavin Myers
Glenn Newnham
John Penders
Maureen Rodbard-Bean
Cantonese Dialogue Supervisor:
Ting Yu
Mandarin Dialogue Supervisor:
Doris Wong Wei-Kun
Steve Burgess
Ng Kwok-Wah
Gerard Long
Mario Vaccaro
Stunt Co-ordinators
Jackie Chan
[Sing Lung]
Action Vehicle Co-ordinator
South African Unit:
Philip Henn
Stunt Driver Co-ordinator
Rotterdam Unit:
Willem de Beukelaar
Weapons Specialist/Armourer
Leung Yui-Nun
Brent Houghton
Chi-Hung Lee
Hung Ming
South African Aerial Unit
Executive Helicopters
Bill Olmstead
Jackie Chan
[Sing Lung]
Jackie, 'Who Am I'
Michelle Ferre
Mirai Yamamoto
Ron Smerczak
Ed Nelson
General Sharman
Ton Pompert
CIA chairman
Gloria Simon
CIA secretary
Johan Van Ditmarsch
Frits Krommenhoek
Dick Rienstra
Rinaldo van Ommeren
army assistant
Pim Daane
Jeremiah Fleming
marine assistant
Neil Berger
Dik Brinksma
Frank van Velsen
national security officers
David Leong Fie
Dehan Wiebenberg
Yanick Mbali
Washington Sixolo
village chief
Jerry Pnele
village witch doctor
Patrick Mofokeng
village hunter
Al Karaki
Gavin Genlloud
Rob Mathews
C.J. Enterprises
rally drivers
Grant Nale
booking officer
Norman Anstey
desk sergeant
Frank Opperman
internal security
Leonard Niketsi
Ross Preller
Jerry Tsie
secret police
Dale Abrahams
laboratory assistant
Lambert Millar
hospital doctor
Hannes Muller
medical tent doctor
David Vlok
head thug
Carl Abrahams
Rafi Anteby
Leen Duchene
Marco Maas
Robin Mes
Ral Sitaropoulos
Michael Lambert
Chip Bray
Richard van Drempt
Piet Hoogstraten
Russ Price
Michael Roben
Ronald Schuurbier
Michael Struik
middleman bodyguards
Hans Cornelissen
Simon Jansen
Michiel Kerbosch
Boris Aribaut
Steve Brettingham
Yutphichai Chanlekha
Michael Lambert
Luo Wei-Kwan
Ted John Mikael Lundell
Nicolas Ng
David John Saunders
Mohd Shukri Shabbudin
Kosugi Kane Takeshi
Ron Smoorenburg
Kwan Rong
Morgan's henchmen
Columbia Tristar Films (UK)
9,711 feet
107 minutes 54 seconds
Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound
In Colour
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011