Who am I? (1998)
Directed by Benny Chan and Jackie Chan

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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In Who am I? Jackie Chan plays a secret agent who loses his memory after having fallen from a helicopter into the wilds of Africa, where he is rescued by a local tribe. When asked his name by the tribesmen, he responds by asking them, "Who am I?" They take this as his name and call him "Whoami." Once he has recovered from his fall, Whoami leaves the tribe and sets out across the desert, where he encounters a young woman named Yuki (Mirai Yamamoto), who takes him back to civilization. There the amnesiac agent discovers that he is a marked man. Teaming up with Yuki and a feisty reporter named Christine (Michelle Ferre), he does battle with those who want to kill him, first in Africa and later in Rotterdam.

While Who am I? is genuinely exciting, there is little in it for which it can be recommended other than its fight scenes, and it is burdened with a number of flaws. As is generally the case in Jackie Chan's films, the plot of Who am I? exists only to provide excuses for the inclusion of a variety of action sequences shot in exotic locations. The characterizations are frankly silly and overdone and the acting is often dreadful. The movie is further weakened by the presence of humorous elements that could easily be interpreted as racist. For example, when Yuki first meets Whoami, he is dressed like an African tribesman and cannot speak, having chewed on a numbing medicinal herb, and she is terrified of him because she believes he is a cannibal intent on eating her.

The action sequences, all performed by Chan, of course, are, however, well done and are the movie's reason for being. The concluding fight sequences in Rotterdam, which include a rooftop contest between Chan and a kickboxing opponent and a slide down the glass side of the same building, are particularly rousing.

Anyone looking for anything other than a typical Jackie Chan action film will, most likely, be disappointed by the movie. Those who enjoy Chan's films will probably enjoy Whoami?, although some, such as myself, may find that enjoyment muted by its occasionally racist humor.

Review by Keith Allen

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