Jackie Chan: My Story/My Stunts Review
For this interesting departure from their traditional output Hong Kong Legends have compiled the 1997/98 documentaries Jackie Chan - My Story and Jackie Chan - My Stunts on to a single disc with mixed results.
My Story Starting out with a highly irritating introduction using a 'JC TV' that shows off short clips from Jackie's various media outings things soon improve as this documentary starts at the beginning and takes us through Jackie's humble upbringing. Of course we hear about the Peking Opera school and his training there as well as receiving a fairly in-depth look at his initial film work (including the hits at Seasonal Films, Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master) whereupon we move on to take a look at Chan's initial attempts at breaking into the American market. Following this we see an interesting comparison between the US cut of 'The Protector' and Chan's own Asian cut but sadly at this point any focus on Chan's film career becomes increasingly shallow as we progress to looks at his varied stunt work right through to his high level of charity work. All of this is tied together by a narrator who truly deserves to be put down while Bey Logan provides the English dubbing for anyone interviewed in their native language (Jackie Chan's father and Sammo Hung) and while he does a decent job it is a shame that we are not simply presented with subtitles for these sections.
My Stunts This 90-minute documentary makes for a far more entertaining and interesting viewing experience than My Story. With a decent narrator and Jackie himself taking us through his various methods of fighting and stunt work you immediately realise that you are in for a treat – heck, we are even treated to a guide of his 'Chan-cave' as well as several demonstrations that will help you differentiate between the tricks of the trade and the outright courage and skill seen onscreen from both Jackie and his stunt team. Featuring Jackie Chan looking at a wide range of his work including the traditional films (along with some fantastic Martial Arts and weapons demonstrations) he also goes back to recreate some of the stunts seen in his classic action comedy Police Story. Other treats include some custom made martial arts and stunt sequences that are in turn performed by his specially trained JC Stunt-group, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Who Am I? and the initial Hong Kong scenes from Rush Hour. In all this is an engaging and thoroughly comprehensive look at how Chan and his stunt team work and comes highly recommended to any Jackie Chan enthusiast.
This Hong Kong Legends release is dual encoded for Regions 2 and 4.
As this is a documentary disc I was never expecting anything more than broadcast quality video and quite simply that is what HKL have presented here on this release. Maintaining the original 4:3 aspect ratio the image is generally blemish free and on both documentaries there is a consistent level of detail present (although the My Stunts section is of a somewhat better quality in this department) as well as good all round colour balance. The only downfall would be the original movie footage included that is either presented in non restored letterbox format or worse still Pan and Scan but then this is not the fault of HKL as this would be how the film clips were originally included on these documentaries.
Much like the picture the English DD2.0 track present is essentially to a broadcast standard and is on the whole very clear with no audible problems. Do not expect this soundtrack to make any use of your Home Cinema Set-up! Dutch subtitles are also included.
I never actually expected to find much extra features adorning this documentary set but to my surprise HKL have again rose to the challenge and included a selection of interesting extra features for our consumption.
First up is an 18-minute interview with the Producer of these documentaries and regular HKL Audio Commentary extraordinaire, Bey Logan. Speaking at length with regards to the genesis of these documentaries Bey is typically well spoken with a wealth of interesting stories to tell as well as finding time to praise Jackie Chan and to bad mouth Hong Kong! (It's all in good humour though).
The other extra features include a Jackie Chan Trailer Gallery that features the Original Trailer for Jackie Chan: My Stunts and four HKL promotional trailers for Armour of God, City Hunter, Battle Creek Brawl and Miracles. A Photo Gallery contains a wealth of behind the scenes photographs from the documentaries and for a change is a welcome inclusion.
Finally we see an Operation Condor: Armour of God 2 featurette that features some interesting behind the scenes footage and an outtakes montage but what is probably most interesting about this featurette is that HKL do not own the rights to this particular film (and you are unlikely to find this feature present on any disc Disney manages to release in the future!). Also present is an Outtakes montage that features the outtakes from Armour of God, Miracles and Police Story 3: Supercop (sadly another title that HKL do not own the film rights too, that accolade unfortunately lays with Disney) and is again a fine watch but I am sure many of you reading this will already own or have seen these films and their outtakes.
While the My Story section is only of average content and leaves you wanting for a more in-depth look into various aspects of Jackie's life I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed My Stunts and would certainly recommend it whole-heartedly to any Jackie Chan enthusiast. This DVD release is of a decent standard with a good selection of extras and is offered at a keen price point to the consumer when you consider the large amount of content provided.