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Who Am I?
cast: Jackie Chan, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ron Smerczak, and Ed Nelson

directors: Jackie Chan, Benny Chan

104 minutes (12) 1998
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Columbia Tristar DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Tony Lee
It's interesting to stack this Hong Kong comedy thriller, produced by Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest, alongside rather more serious action thriller The Bourne Identity. Both films are about highly skilled secret agents who are suffering from amnesia while being hunted and targeted for execution by the spymaster bosses of their covert organisations, and both films involve female sidekicks who help the globe-trotting heroes rediscover their lost memories and get out of trouble, yet the similarities end there. The prevailing tone of Chan's outing (as with the majority of his work) is gleefully absurd and comically imaginative, whereas Doug Liman's somewhat darker Bourne Identity strives to make psychological sense out the fragmented life of its fugitive hero.
   As the international man of mystery nicknamed Whoami, Chan's super-heroic kung fu skills (conveniently unaffected by his character's loss of memory), and instinctive evasion of confrontation with authority or any dangerous situation, attract the attention of security forces investigating the aftermath of the botched espionage mission (which opens the film), of which Chan is the only survivor. In the early scenes, we find Chan adapting to tribal life in the South African jungle, but almost immediately after he reaches civilisation Whoami is running for his life with killers working for rogue CIA boss Morgan (Ron Smerczak) on his trail. Posing as a reporter, glamorous young CIA agent Christine (Michelle Ferre) soon becomes our hero's ally, and helps him gain access to the villain's stronghold in Rotterdam, but before he can escape with evidence of Morgan's crimes, Whoami faces a challenging rooftop fight against two expert martial artists...
   There's a frantically paced car chase (as is customary for every self-respecting new action film) but in defiance of genre convention, Chan is merely a passenger in the vehicle with female rally driver Yuki (Mirai Yamamoto) behind the wheel. Frequently inventive sight gags - as when the gone-native Whoami is mistaken for a cannibal while trying to save a victim of snakebite by sucking out the venom (I wonder if the iv drip made with a coconut is medically sound?) - provide great fun viewing between the hectic combat scenes. Chan also manages to balance his Buster Keaton inspired slapstick and knockabout routines (the street chase with Chan in wooden clogs is quite amusing) with a few scenes of genuine drama, like the moment of paranoia when Whoami suspects that Christine is spying on him.
   Who Am I? (aka: Wo shi shui) is certainly one of Chan's better English dubbed films, superior in many ways to the same year's buddy movie Rush Hour (or its 2001 sequel), and infinitely preferable to glossy nonsense like The Tuxedo.
   The DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TV, with Dolby digital 5.1 or stereo soundtrack options in English or Italian (plus 11-language subtitles) but the only disc extra is a trailer.

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