Who Am I? (1998 film)
|Who Am I?|
Hong Kong film poster for Who Am I?
|Music by||Nathan Wang|
|Cinematography||Poon Hang Sang|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest
|Running time||103 minutes|
|Box office||HK $38,852,845|
Who Am I? (traditional Chinese: 我是誰; simplified Chinese: 我是谁, also known as Jackie Chan's Who Am I?) is a 1998 Hong Kong action film directed by Benny Chan and Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. The film was released in the Hong Kong on January 17, 1998.
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 (Ron Smerczak) to investigate the incident, unaware that he and newly retired Lieutenant General Sherman (Ed Nelson) orchestrated the abduction for their personal profit. At the same time, the CIA assigns another operative in South Africa for a more covert operation.
Chan 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 tribe's 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 (Mirai Yamamoto) 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 (Michelle Ferre), a journalist sent to interview him about his rally adventure. However, Morgan hears of "Who Am I?" and sends hitmen 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. Not knowing whom to trust, he sneaks into the Willemswerf alone, where he discovers the masterminds behind the kidnapping of the scientists. It is revealed that Morgan and Lieutenant General Sherman are about to sell the extraterrestrial compound to a powerful arms dealer. 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 children's organization, infuriating the arms dealer. After escaping from the building from a battle with Morgan's hitmen, "Who Am I?" regroups with Christine, who calls for the execution of a "Plan B", to surround the Erasmus Bridge and corner Morgan. Once Christine takes Morgan into custody, "Who Am I?" throws the disc off the bridge and tells Christine he will return to Africa.
- Jackie Chan as Jackie a.k.a. "Who Am I?"
- Michelle Ferre as Christine Stark
- Mirai Yamamoto as Yuki
- Ed Nelson as General Sherman
- Ron Smerczak as CIA Agent Morgan
- Ron Smoorenburg as Morgan's Taekwondo hitman
- Kwan Yung as Morgan's Cai Li Fo hitman
- Yanick Mbali as Baba
- Washington Xisolo as the Village Chief
- Tom Pompert as CIA Chairman
- Glory Simon as CIA Secretary
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).
The film also features an elaborate chase scene involving the then popular Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV and a pack of chasing BMW 3-series, 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 needed 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 Chan's films of that era.
The U.S. DVD release is cut by 9 minutes with the following changes and omissions:
- A scene in which "Who Am I?"'s special forces unit is double-crossed appears as a black-and-white flashback in the middle of the original film. For the U.S. release, that scene is placed immediately after Chan's unit completes their mission.
- "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 tribe's farewell ceremony for "Who Am I?"'s journey; and a scene in which he performs an interpretation of the tribal dance.
- The rally race scene has been shortened.
- A scene where "Who Am I?" recovers feeling in his mouth (as he chewed herbal leaves into an anesthetic to cure Yuki's brother's snake bite) and explains his situation to Yuki has been cut.
- All but two instant replay shots (where Yuki, "Who Am I?" and Christine drive through a fruit stand, and where "Who Am I?" narrowly misses falling furniture in Rotterdam) have been deleted.
Unlike other domestic releases of Jackie Chan's films, this version of Who Am I? retains the film's original musical score.
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.
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 Hong Kong cut.
Box office and reception
Awards and nominations
- 1999 Hong Kong Film Awards
- Who Am I? at the Internet Movie Database
- Who Am I? at AllMovie
- Who Am I? at Rotten Tomatoes
- Who Am I? related article PodcastOnFire.com