I Am Jackie Chan


If you're a fan of action-adventure movies - with the accent on action - then you no doubt love watching Jackie Chan risk his life to create sensational cinema. As one of the biggest stars to burst into U.S. theaters, Jackie has put America's hottest heroes to shame, wowing audiences with the breathless, death-defying stunts that are the highlight of such movies as Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Operation Condor, and his newest blockbuster, Rush Hour.
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1999 School & Library Binding Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain ... highlighting/notes, and may not include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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If you're a fan of action-adventure movies - with the accent on action - then you no doubt love watching Jackie Chan risk his life to create sensational cinema. As one of the biggest stars to burst into U.S. theaters, Jackie has put America's hottest heroes to shame, wowing audiences with the breathless, death-defying stunts that are the highlight of such movies as Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Operation Condor, and his newest blockbuster, Rush Hour.
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Editorial Reviews

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He's the most popular movie star in the world, although the U.S. has admittedly been a bit slow to catch on to Jackie Chan's charms. American audiences are now making up for lost time, though, and the release of the ebullient actor's autobiography, I Am Jackie Chan, should only hasten the process. It's a book that will certainly appeal to Chan's rabid following and may just gain the popular action star a whole new crop of devotees.
Mark Athitakis

Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan has been such a longtime fixture for Asian audiences (and more recently, American ones) that it's easy to forget how utterly revolutionary his work is. Not only because the now-40ish Chan routinely performs film stunts that nobody else would dare to, but because he was the first Asian movie star to elevate kung-fu filmmaking beyond trite chop-socky fare. While dozens of interchangeable musclemen battle hordes of ninjas with their bare fists, and John Woo's heroes employ enough guns to arm a small nation, Chan uses simple ingenuity: clothes racks, skateboards and other random household objects are his stock in trade. But Chan's true gift is his regular-guy personality. Bruce Lee was the inarguable hero in every frame of his tragically brief career, but in Chan's best work he's a great antihero: a wisecracking victim of circumstance who, like Buster Keaton, always stumbles across a new way to get out of each predicament.

It's a shame, then, that Chan's memoir, I Am Jackie Chan, doesn't hold the same thrill as his best movies. It's not really Chan's fault: Because his childhood was marked by rigorous training, and his adulthood by his attempts to continuously top himself on-screen, there's little room left for a real-life tale of adventure that resembles his film roles. In fact, a full half of his book (co-written with A. magazine publisher Jeff Yang) focuses on his childhood education at the China Drama Academy, where he learned the fighting skills and catlike movements that would serve him so well later. The story is a fast read, but an ultimately simple one; Chan enters into a harsh regimen of training, finds himself on the bottom of a pecking order that's ruled by older "Big Brothers" (some of whom would become co-stars in Chan's films) and gets into minor scrapes that result in abusive punishments at the hands of his master.

The long descriptions of childhood episodes do pay off, however, since they help to explain his committed and death-defying personality. Growing up into stunt work, the young man who always needed to prove himself to his elders takes on the most dangerous jobs with a bravado that was (literally) beaten into him. And because the young Chan was a starving artist, he takes pride in pointing out how he routinely does more on-screen with less money. Chan's book isn't toothless; he has a number of harsh comments for his (and Bruce Lee's) early director Lo Wei, who nearly sabotaged his career. But he does seem to have a fair amount in common with his comical, anti-macho screen image.

Despite its relative thinness, Chan's book is essential reading for fans of Hong Kong cinema, if only for its well-thought-out appendices, which offer a complete filmography and a personal list of his top 10 fights and stunts. (The "Shantytown Stakeout" in Police Story rightfully takes the top slot.) There's also a distressing list of every part of his body that's been broken, cut and bruised. ("While making Supercop, I dislocated a cheekbone. I didn't even know you could do that." Those injuries often make it onto the credit reels of his films.) Someday a smart fan of Hong Kong cinema will compile those reels of bloopers and injuries on one video, and it will tell a story that's just as true and honest -- and more intriguing -- than anything Chan has to say in his own book. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One of Asia's most popular film stars, Chan has helped reinvent the Hong Kong action genre by blending hyperkinetic stunts with a self-deprecating humor and a freewheeling flamboyance reminiscent of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. His autobiography, unfortunately, contains few of these elements. In minute detail, he chronicles his punishing childhood in the Chinese Opera Research Institute and his rise to superstardom. From age seven to 17, under the severe discipline--some might even call it child abuse--of his Opera Master, Chan was trained for theater and film work. After the death of Bruce Lee (Chan was a stuntman in Lee's Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon), his studio, Golden Harvest, attempted to turn him into a Lee clone. But Chan's film persona finally jelled when he began to emulate his silent-movie heroes and to punctuate his films with what he calls "the superstunt" - high-risk feats of derring - do that he performs himself. Chan takes himself to task for neglecting his family (indeed, his wife and 14-year-old son are only briefly mentioned), and offers a candid look at the gangs, called Triads, that retain a powerful grip on the Hong Kong film industry. But despite such glimpses behind the actor's Teflon veneer, and his punchy anecdotes, this surprisingly tame, sometimes plodding memoir fails to deliver the heady thrills one has come to expect of a Jackie Chan production.
VOYA - Randy Brough
At age seven, Jackie Chan was enrolled in the China Drama Academy, a Hong Kong boarding school presided over by Master Yu Jim-yuen. For the next ten years Jackie would be trained in the art of Chinese opera. His regimen was rigorous, exhausting, and often brutal. The Master disciplined his pupils without mercy, and canings were common. Jackie endured his punishing training and in time became a lead performer in the intricate, demanding dramas staged by the Academy troupe. He also began his transition to cinema by working as a stuntman in martial arts films. Jackie soon gained a reputation as a fearless stuntman, and directors started to offer him starring roles in their movies. Given the opportunity to act and eventually produce and direct, Jackie emerged as one of the brightest stars in the Asian film world. The coup de grace for him occurred in 1994 with the release of Rumble in the Bronx, his breakthrough movie in the United States, a blockbuster that cemented his reputation as a box office magnet. Like his movies, Jackie's autobiography is fast-paced, frequently funny, and chock-full of action. Though not a huge fan of martial arts films, I was hugely entertained by this rousing account of Jackie's charismatic life. Compelling reading, this book includes many photographs (some in color), a complete filmography, a medical history of Jackie's more serious injuries, and lists of his top ten stunts and top ten fights. Photos. Chronology. Appendix. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).
Library Journal
Fans of action cinema will be thrilled with this autobiography. The star of films like Drunken Master (1978), Police Story (1985), and Supercop (1992) recounts his life in short, machine-gun-burst chapters. Beginning with his formative days as the acolyte of an opera master at the Chinese Drama Academy, Chan dives into his Hong Kong stuntman apprenticeship and career as a worldwide kung fu, shoot-'em-up idol. The staccato narrative ends with his U.S. breakthrough, Rumble in the Bronx (1994). Chan afterward divulges his "top ten stunts," "top ten fights," and his accrued bodily "aches and pains" in separate appendixes. A section called "Jackie's Films" affords a whirlwind survey of Chan's oeuvre. Written with noted Asian American journalist Yang, this volume makes for thorough, two-fisted coverage and should be read in tandem with Jeff Rovin's The Essential Jackie Chan Sourcebook (Pocket, 1997). Recommended for public libraries.--Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN
Lori Tharps
Jackie Chan's life story read like a Jackie Chan movie: lots of action, scraps of humor; and very little emotional introspection. This could have been an inspirational Chinese Cinderella story, but the flashy stunts can't compensate for the slight substance. --Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Hong Kong action star Chan tells his story to journalist Yang (Eastern Standard Time) and a colorful rags-to-riches tale it is. Chan is best-known as a man who does all his own stunts, no matter how insanely dangerous or harrowing, a genuinely likeable Everyman figure who is summed up by the title of his most recent American release: Mr. Nice Guy. Although he is a master of kung fu, his film persona is that of the ordinary guy who feels pain, who loses fights occasionally, and who survives by his wits and agility rather than superhuman strength. Delightfully enough, that is the same personality that emerges from this surprisingly artful as-told-to. Chan focuses on his childhood and early career struggles for most of the book, only reaching his present level of stardom 'the biggest box-office draw in Asia, and rapidly approaching similar status everywhere else) in the last 75 pages. His childhood story is offbeat, perhaps well known to his fans but a glimpse into a very different world for everyone else. When he was seven, his parents handed him over to the China Drama Academy, where he ate, slept, and lived for ten years, studying the arts of the Chinese opera under Dickensian conditions. Chan recounts this story of 12-hour days, beatings, and other punishments with a finely judged sense of right and wrong, without a grandstanding sense of outrage, and with considerable humor. The rest of his story is told with appealing modesty as well. The book concludes with a very detailed filmography and lists of his ten most dangerous stunts and favorite fight scenes. An entertaining tale, well enough told that it should be of interest even to those who have never seen a JackieChan film, if any such people still exist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613217385
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 4.02 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Read an Excerpt

"Shantytown Stakeout," Police Story

As far as action is concerned, Police Story is my favorite movie I've ever made, a real whirlwind of slam-bang stunts and wild fights from beginning to end. To start things off right—that is to say, in an insanely exciting and dangerous way—Edward Tang King-sang and I scripted this opening sequence. My character and my fellow cops have been assigned to an undercover stakeout in an attempt to nab a notorious mobster. We set our trap along a winding mountain highway, taking up hidden positions throughout a rickety village of old tin and wood shacks. When our trap is sprung too soon, the dragnet turns into a disaster, as the gangsters try to escape by driving through the mountain village. Not "through" as in "zigzagging around the buildings," but through as in smashing into, over, and through the buildings. I quickly commandeer a car and begin a crazed chase down the slope after them. The car is smashed (as is the village), so I chase the crooks on foot. When they hijack a double-decker bus, I grab an umbrella, take a running leap, and hook its handle onto the rim of
an open window! Hanging desperately onto the umbrella, I try to pull myself into the bus, but am eventually thrown clear. Scrambling down to a lower part of the highway, I draw my pistol, order the speeding bus to stop...and it does, just inches away from my body.

"The Great Glass Slide," Police Story

This is where I finally put the drop on the gangsters once and for all. Of
course, I had to put the drop on myself in order to do it—literally.
After a glass-shattering fight inside a shopping mall, I spot my target
severalfloors below, on the ground level of an open atrium. The only way
to get down from my perch in time to do my policeman's duty is to take a
flying leap into the air, grab ahold of a pole wrapped in twinkling
Christmas lights, and slide a hundred feet to the ground—through a
glass-and-wood partition, onto the hard marble tile. We had to do this in
one take, so I crossed my fingers and prayed that I'd hit the stunt the
first time (and that I'd hit the ground softly). I made my jump, grabbed
the pole, and watched the twinkling lights crack and pop all the way down,
in an explosion of shattering glass and electrical sparks. Then I hit the
glass. And then I hit the floor. Somehow I managed to survive with a
collection of ugly bruises ... and second-degree burns on the skin of my
fingers and palms.

"Clock Tower Tumble," Project A

After a wild bicycle chase through Hong Kong's back alleys, I find myself
high in the air, dangling from the hands of a giant clock face. With no
other way to get down than fall, I let go—and crash through a series of
cloth canopies before smashing into the ground. I had to do this one three
times before I was satisfied with the way it looked. Trust me, I wouldn't
want to do it a fourth time.

"An Aerial Tour of Kuala Lumpur," Police Story III: Supercop

By this time, all of you probably know Michelle Yeoh from Tomorrow
Never Dies
, the James Bond film. She resurrected her action career by
costarring with me in Supercop, my first film with Stanley Tong.
Michelle isn't a fighter; she never formally trained in martial arts,
beginning her career as a ballet dancer. But one thing you can say for her
is that she has the heart of a lionness. She did all of her own stunts in
Supercop, because she threatened to beat me up if I wouldn't let
her! Her most dangerous sequence in the movie was a scene in which she
rides a motorcycle up a ramp, into the air, and onto the roof of a moving
train. I have to admit that after I saw her do that stunt, I felt like I
had something to prove. That's why we added this sequence, in which I jump
from the roof of a building to a rope ladder swinging from the bottom of a
hovering helicopter. The crooks flying the chopper try to knock me off the
ladder by swinging me back and forth through the air and into buildings,
moving at high speed above the streets of Malaysia's capital. They don't
succeed—lucky for me. And the stunt looks almost as dangerous as it
really was—lucky for all you action fans out there.

"Going Down ..." Who Am I?

This scene was billed by my producers as the "world's most dangerous
stunt." They were probably telling the truth—although just about any
stunt is dangerous, if you do it wrong. (The stunt that nearly killed me
took place less than fifteen feet off the ground, after all.) Luckily, I
did it right. Eventually. Even though one of my stuntmen proved it could
be done (from a lower level, of course), it took me two weeks to get up
the nerve to try it myself. The sequence begins with me fighting it out
with some thugs on the top of a very tall building in Rotterdam, Holland.
After battling with them around the roof, and nearly falling off once or
twice, I finally take the quickest possible trip to the sidewalk
below—sliding down the side of the building, which is slanted nearly
forty-five degrees, all the way to the ground. Twenty-one stories. If I
ever have an amusement park, I'll be sure to turn this stunt into a ride.

"The Walls Come Tumblin' Down," Project A II

I saw Buster Keaton do this in Steamboat Bill, Jr., so of course I
had to do it too. After running down the face of a ceremonial facade
that's in the process of falling over, I narrowly escape being crushed by
standing in the right place at the right time—with my body going through
an opening in the facade as it crashes down right over me. It's all in the

"No Way to Ride a Bus," Police Story II

Another chase sequence—this time running along the tops of moving buses,
while narrowly dodging signs and billboards that pass overhead and around
me. At the end of the chase, I leap through a glass window....
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong window as my target, and instead of
hitting prop glass, I smashed through a real pane. Which left me in real

"Down, Down, and Away," Armour of God

I did this stunt just weeks after recovering from my near-fatal fall and
serious brain surgery. The show must go on. My character, Asian Hawk, is
racing to get away from angry natives (I've just stolen a priceless
religious artifact from them, so they have good reason to be angry). Over
a cliff I go ... landing on top of a huge hot air balloon, safe and sound.
I did this stunt by parachuting from a plane. Which didn't make it any

"Roller Boogie," Winners and Sinners

I'm not really the star of the "Lucky Stars" movies—I did the films
mostly because of Samo. (Well, it helped that the movies were box office
hits.) As a result, I don't get much screen time, which is fine, because
the rest of the cast is talented and hilarious. This scene gave me a
chance to shine, though—using the roller-skating skill I learned for
The Big Brawl in a chase sequence on a crowded highway. The wildest
part of the sequence has me rolling over a Volkswagen Beetle, and then
under an eighteen-wheeler truck rig. That's one way of beating rush hour

"Cycle Thriller," Armour of God II: Operation Condor

We intended Operation Condor to be epic in every way: big fights,
big budget, and, of course, big stunts. There's a chase sequence toward
the beginning of the movie that stands as one of my best ever. After
racing through the streets of Madrid on the back of a motorcycle, I find
myself headed for the waterfront with nowhere to go but into the sea.
Luckily, I spot a cargo net hanging from a crane at the edge of the
docks—so I gun the engines and head full-speed toward the end of the pier
in a deadly game of chicken with my pursuers. They're forced to veer off
and crash into stacked piles of crates, while I ride my cycle off the pier
and into the air, leaping up to grab hold of the net at the very last
minute. What a waste of a good bike.

From the Paperback edition.

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