ⓘ Who Am I? (1998 film)
Who Am I? is a 1998 Hong Kong action comedy film directed by Benny Chan and Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. The film was released in Hong Kong on 17 January 1998. It is also Chans second film to be scripted and shot in English, the first one being is Mr. Nice Guy.
Somewhere in the jungles of South Africa, a multinational military unit, Special Force Unit, ambushes a convoy and kidnaps several scientists working on a highly-volatile compound extracted from a recently discovered meteorite. Among the operatives is a Hong Kong national identified as "Jackie Chan". The CIA assigns Morgan to investigate the incident, unaware that he and newly retired General Sherman orchestrated the abduction for their personal profit. At the same time, the CIA assigns another operative in South Africa for a more covert operation.
Jackie wakes up in a tribal village somewhere in the African veldt, still recovering from injuries sustained in an accident he cannot remember; as a result, when asked for his name by the natives, he responds by asking himself, "Who Am I?", and is referred to as that by the natives. The tribesmen show him the remains of a crashed helicopter and graves of those who perished aboard. He spends weeks recuperating from his wounds and learning about the tribes culture. After spotting rally cars from several miles away, "Who Am I?" bids the village farewell and ventures on a journey back to civilization. He befriends Japanese rally navigator Yuki after saving her brother from a snake bite and offering to help them finish the race.
When they reach Johannesburg, "Who Am I?" meets Christine Stark, a journalist sent to interview him about his rally adventure. However, Morgan hears of "Who Am I?" and sends a hitman team to kill him. Morgan also pretends to be his ally, telling him to contact him if he is in danger. After escaping from the hitmen, Christine cracks a secret code written on a matchbook found on one of the dead operatives, which leads them to Rotterdam, Netherlands. "Who Am I?" and Christine bid Yuki farewell and head for Rotterdam to find more answers to his identity.
In Rotterdam, "Who Am I?" discovers that Christine is actually an undercover CIA agent who tapped his calls. Not knowing whom to trust, he battles Shermans hitmen and sneaks into the Willemswerf alone, where he discovers the masterminds behind the kidnapping of the scientists. It is revealed that Morgan and General Sherman are about to sell the extraterrestrial compound to a powerful arms dealer named Armano. While waiting for the online transaction to finish, the three men leave the conference room for a coffee break - giving "Who Am I?" time to sneak in and steal the disc containing the compound information. He also cancels the transaction and sends the money to a childrens organization "Save The Childrens Fund", which infuriates the arms dealer. Once he discovers Morgans betrayal, "Who Am I?" tries to kill Morgan, but is interrupted by Morgans hitmen. After escaping from the building from a battle with Morgans hitmen, "Who Am I?" regroups with Christine, who calls for the execution of a "Plan B", to surround the Erasmus Bridge and corner Morgan in cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. Once Christine kicks Morgan and takes him into custody, "Who Am I?" throws the disc off the bridge and tells Christine he will return to Africa.
- Kwan Yung as Morgans Cai Li Fo hitman
- Glory Simon as CIA Secretary
- Mike Ian Lambert as Peter Morgans hitman
- David Vlok as Morgans Head assassin
- Ron Smerczak as CIA Agent Morgan
- Ed Nelson as General Sherman
- Michelle Ferre as Christine Stark
- Ron Smoorenburg as Morgans taekwondo hitman
- Washington Sixolo as the Village Chief
- Tom Pompert as CIA Chairman
- Yanick Mbali as Baba
- Jackie Chan as Jackie Chan a.k.a. "Who Am I?"
- Mirai Yamamoto as Yuki Ohsato
3. Production notes
Who Am I? was shot on locations in Namibia, South Africa, and Netherlands between February and March 1997. The film features several landmarks such as Sun City in South Africa, Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the Beurstraverse which was portrayed by the film makers as being in Johannesburg, the Cube houses and the Willemswerf building which served as the headquarters of the villains and from the side of which, "Who Am I?" escaped by sliding to the ground. Dutch city Dordrecht was also used as a location on the Voorstraat, de Vleeshouwersstraat as well as the fountains by Hans Petri in front of the former Refaja hospital.
The film also features an elaborate chase scene involving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR and a pack of chasing BMW 3 series E36, in which Jackie, Yuki, and Christine in the Evolution attempt to escape from their captors. Several memorable stunts in the Evolution IV were featured, including a spin parking manoeuvre, market chase, and flipping the car onto its side and roof. In the making-of documentary, the team outlined the numerous Lancer Evolutions that were used for the entire sequence due to the harsh physical challenges presented by the stunts. The use of the Evolution IV was consistent with the ongoing presence and sponsorship of Mitsubishi in Jackie Chans films of that era.
4. Awards and nominations
- Nomination: Best Film Editing Peter Cheung, Chi Wai Yau
- 1999 Hong Kong Film Awards
- Nomination: Best Sound Design
- Nomination: Best Actor Jackie Chan
- Winner: Best Action Choreography Jackie Chan
- Nomination: Best Picture Barbie Tung executive producer
5.1. Home media United States
The U.S. DVD release is cut by 9 minutes with the following changes and omissions:
- Unlike the original HK version of the film, the scene where Jackie Chan and his unit are double-crossed in the helicopter is shown immediately after the helicopters take off. This takes away the "big reveal" effect of what actually happened with Jackie and his men, taking away the mystery.
- "Who Am I?"s interaction with the African tribe has been reduced dramatically. Cuts include a scene in which he asks the tribal boy, Baba, how many days it takes to walk to civilization; a scene where he and Baba run away from a lioness after he picks up a lion cub; a scene showing the tribes farewell ceremony for "Who Am I?"s journey; and a scene in which he performs an interpretation of the tribal dance.
- A scene where "Who Am I?" recovers feeling in his mouth as he chewed herbal leaves into an anesthetic to cure Yukis brothers snake bite and explains his situation to Yuki has been cut.
- The rally race scene has been shortened.
- All but two instant replay shots have been deleted.
Unlike other domestic releases of Jackie Chans films, this version of Who Am I? retains the films original musical score. Also, the U.S. release is the only cut which contains Jackie Chans original spoken English during his time with the African tribe. The uncut HK releases have dubbed it in Cantonese.
5.2. Home media Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Universe Laser DVD now out of print contains the film as it was originally intended. The "double-cross" scene is not shown until during the interrogation scene as a "revelation flashback." It is meant to be a mystery as to what happened until the viewer sees these flashbacks. It also contains "Who Am I?"s full interaction with the African tribe. However, his English dialogue during this interaction is dubbed into Cantonese during this part. There are English subtitles provided for the whole film. The presentation is not anamorphic, however.
5.3. Home media Japan
Warner Bros. Japan has released two DVD editions of the film: the single-disc DVD contains the original Hong Kong cut of the film with an anamorphic presentation, but with no English subtitles, and it retains the Cantonese dub of Jackie Chan during the African tribe scenes. The two-disc anamorphic edition contains both versions of the film, with English subtitles for the US cut.
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