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I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,098 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
As one of the biggest stars to burst into U.S. theaters, Jackie Chan has wowed audiences with death-defying stunts. But who really is this lightning-fast Charlie Chaplin of martial arts moviemaking? Now, in I Am Jackie Chan, he tells the fascinating, harrowing, ultimately triumphant story of his life: How the rebellious son of refugees in tumultuous 1950s Hong Kong became ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 28th 1999 by Ballantine Books (first published 1998)
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This is vastly superior to the typical celebrity biography. The last third of the book, about Jackie Chan's rise to success, is interesting. The best part of this book, however, covers his years of struggle. And, wow, did he struggle.

Jackie Chan was the son of poor, refugee parents in Hong Kong, who fostered him to a Chinese Opera school, a place like a Dickensian orphanage, but with flying spin kicks. His teacher was manipulative and abusive. Chan was beaten a lot, hungry most of the time, and
Philberta Leung
Mar 16, 2008 Philberta Leung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this Jackie Chan autobiography randomly at my mom's house when I realized I had nothing fun to read while I was doing laundry. To my surprise, I was immediately sucked in, and didn't stop reading until I was done with the entire book a day later. Now, kung fu / martial arts movies are not even remotely close to being my favorite movie genre, but I have to admit, once I finished this book, I was ALMOST itching to rend a Jackie Chan movie. I have now added Drunken Master to my netflix ...more
Jul 20, 2007 Jamesatkinson rated it liked it
When Jackie Chan was 8 his parents sold him to the chinese opera where they beat the shit out of him and he learned to do backflips. And he met Sammo Hung who ate all his food. Then later he made kung fu films while fighting triads and also he fought al his producers and established his own character as a goofy unlikely hero guy. awesome.
Feb 28, 2012 Loralee rated it really liked it
Can't believe how much I enjoyed this, when I have only ever seen one Jackie Chan movie in my life. Maybe two. With a talented coauthor, Chan tells the story of his childhood in a school for Chinese opera (beatings and 19-hour-days were common), breaking into the movie business as a stuntman, going broke, getting called back into the movies to act for a director who tried to turn him into Bruce Lee, finally getting the freedom to make his own movies, which became blockbusters, and trying to show ...more
May 28, 2013 Kim-Lost-In-A-Book rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
What a good memoir. I really enjoyed reading about the Hong Kong movie industry which is very different from Hollywood apparently. I liked seeing a side of Jackie Chan that I wouldn't expect to see. I enjoyed his humility along with his confidence, the fact that he can admit his failures while still celebrating his successes is refreshing to see in a "superstar". Mr. Chan has certainly come a long way in his life and he's done so with grace and style, even with a few bumps in the road. This memo ...more
Sep 13, 2010 Phillip rated it really liked it
Jackie Chan's autobiography is written with an easy conversational style, one that allows an occasional comment to drop that reveals a twinkle in the author's eye.

This is a surprising story of a young boy raised in an incredibly strict environment of the Peking Opera Dramatic Academy; of a youth trying to survive as a stuntman in the glutted Hong Kong film market; of a young man trying to develop his own cinema persona in an industry committed to molding him into the style of the most recent cel
Sep 01, 2015 Kevin rated it liked it
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?s ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Brandon rated it it was amazing
The book "i am Jackie Chan: My life in action" was an alright book! It starts off with Jackie being born into a Chinese family and all the sexist horoscopes it comes with it. Jackie was an only child and got to travel around the world due to his fathers job. When he was going into his teen years he participated in many activities like swimming,singing in the Choir and karate. Soon Jackie got into filming and movie making and met a bunch of famous new people. Some of the friends he had growing up ...more
Aug 20, 2011 Tina rated it really liked it
I was surprised to learn Jackie Chan was sold to the Chinese Opera when he was a child because his parents couldn't afford to support him...and he was an unruly child. That part is believable I suppose. I thought the whole training era, from 7-17, was fascinating...and brutal. Makes me wonder if he really is the last true kung fu performer like that, that can do his own stunts, since that kind of training has to be outlawed by now. Was that training really the key to his skill? Or will others co ...more
Carlyn Brody
Apr 02, 2013 Carlyn Brody rated it it was amazing
My family and I love to watch Jackie Chan films. I bought I am Jackie Chan: My life in action as a Christmas present for my brother. Jackie Chan’s autobiography was first published in 1996 and my brother and I wanted the book but we were kids and couldn’t afford it. As I grew up I couldn’t find the book anywhere and it’s only now as an adult, that I purchased the book off Amazon. I have the updated edition of the biography which contains new infor
Oct 04, 2012 Jessie rated it it was amazing
This book is a memoir/autobiography about Jackie Chan's Life, he did a good job showing his life problems / challenges and how he had to face and conquer them. He was very detailed and showed how he got to where he is today. He goes from poor to rich because he worked hard to achieve. On page 366 - 398 he shares his personal reviews for his movies, starting with his first one (Big and Little Wong Tin-Bar - 1962)to the most current one the book lists (Shanghai Noon - 2000)i found this to be very ...more
Raphael Bernardo
Aug 07, 2014 Raphael Bernardo rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anugrah Nagaich
Jun 24, 2012 Anugrah Nagaich rated it really liked it
Well, if you love his hilarious yet amazing action moves & are a fan of his trademark kung-fu movies, then this is surely a must read for you so that you can clearly understand what does it takes to be a martial artist & how much bodily sacrifices (read- fatal injuries) you'll have to bear on your way while filming some of the most amazing action sequences of the world.
This biography describes vividly the pains (seriously, if you think you can also become a martial artist, this will make
Kyle Stafford
Sep 10, 2015 Kyle Stafford rated it it was amazing
Well, I finished this book this morning. As far as non fiction goes, it was good. It offers an incredibly insightful look into Jackie Chan and his struggle to not only make his movies the best that he could, but to bring them to American audiences. Jackie went through some shit, including (but not limited to) his brutal years as a student of the Chinese opera, heartbreak, and even a run in with the infamous Triad organization. I would certainly recommend this to anyone that has an interest in Ja ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Tristy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, scavenged
I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading the amazing story of Jackie Chan! I much preferred the first half of the book, where he takes us through life in Hong Kong in the 1950's & 60's and the grueling training he and his "sisters & brothers" had to go through to become the amazing athletes and performers they now are. As he writes, there will never be another generation that had to go through the severe physical punishment and abuse those kids had to go through. When he gets famous an ...more
Apr 15, 2013 Joy rated it it was amazing
Five Stars: full of action and humour. Any 8th grader's dream come true!

When I was in 8th grade, I complained to my father that I didn't know what I was going to do in life. He recommended that I read biographies, as he did earlier in his life, when he had similarly been lost. What he did not tell me, and what I didn't find out until much later is that he had done the biography exercise in his last year of college.

I went to the library (which was no burden, as it was easily my favorit
Feb 08, 2016 Phil rated it really liked it
I liked Jackie Chan before I ever picked up his autobiography. Now I really like him.

This book is the origin story of Jackie Chan. It explores his childhood full of demanding adults, borderline child abuse, and young Jackie Chan mischief. It tells the story of his many failures and his search for identity before he figured out who he was and what a Jackie Chan movie was.

It was a great read. Entertaining, encouraging, and enlightening to the world of movie-making in Hong Kong. And the end append
Jan 29, 2016 Katfish rated it liked it
It was a fun read with short chapters. Jackie Chan movies have always been a staple in my family so reading how he came to be was interesting. The one thing to remember is the book is on the older side, it was published around the time Rush Hour was released in theaters.
Matthew Paton
May 24, 2011 Matthew Paton rated it liked it
I've never read an autobiography before; I guess I've never been that interested in a 'personality' to really find out more about them. However I'm very glad to have decided to read this one.Jackie's life has been pretty amazing, from growing up in Hong Kong and attending the Chinese Opera School and his many attempts to break into both the Hong Kong and American film industries.The majority of the book focuses on Jackie's early life, his parents leaving him at the Opera School, his gruelling tr ...more
Jan 14, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
This book was the January selection for one of my book clubs. It was interesting to learn about Jackie's life and how the performing arts and movie industries differ between countries, but I had never seen any of his movies before, and this book did not inspire me to start. Especially not after U.S. and international sources have now quoted Jackie as saying the U.S. is "the most corrupt country in the world."

I will say this, though: After having read in this book about Asian singing star Teresa
Sep 24, 2015 Pollito rated it it was ok
Como toda biografía, esta es interesante sólo en la medida en que te resulte interesante el personaje (porque las personas no son sujetas de biografías) en el que se basan. Me niego a hablar más de ella porque tampoco lo merece.
James Wilcox
Aug 14, 2015 James Wilcox rated it it was amazing
Not only is this an amazing story of how Jackie Chan grew up in the China Drama Academy, I also met him and had him sign my book. He was as gracious as anyone I have ever met.
Brett Bydairk
Feb 22, 2013 Brett Bydairk rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
A very readable autobiography of a (sort of) humble action hero. Roughly the first third of the book covers his childhood training at the China Drama Academy,where he learned all the arts necessary for a life in Chinese Opera: tumbling, acting, singing, dancing, and kung fu. Finishing school as Chinese Opera was dying, the next third is about his struggles to start and maintain a movie career. The last third concerns his Asian stardom, and his (unwilling and unsuccessful, at first) attempts to b ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Jojo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2008, memoir

I found the parts about his childhood training to be the most interesting. I can't even imagine that much work and that much dedication and that many beatings at such a young age. It sounded like a complete nightmare to me, and that he can appreciate what he learned and have fond memories of that time in spite of the major suckiness is pretty awesome.

Very quick read! Interesting! Entertaining! Although I totally wanted there to be something about his singing, but apart from a remark
Alexander Lisovsky
Nov 02, 2015 Alexander Lisovsky rated it really liked it
довольно увлекательная автобиография, рассказывающая про умирающие традиции тренировки артистов китайской оперы, ранний кинематограф и нашествия на Голливуд
Sep 30, 2012 Graeme rated it really liked it

Too many pages dedicated to his childhood rather than the glory filmaking years of the 80s.

Does come across as a bit arrogant and isn't the most honest regarding his stunts.

The whole part dedicated to the Project A clock tower fall is a bit too much story telling. He fails to mention that his stuntman and fellow actor Mars does the drop and in the film you never actually see Jackie fall the whole way down.

Also at one point he says he doesn't use a stuntman which is totally false as he
Mar 17, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
The book is good. It gets a little slow and redundant near the end and it is dated now, but the story if his childhood is incredible.
Beau Johnston
Feb 28, 2014 Beau Johnston rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography, humour
A terrific insight into who Jackie Chan is and how he became the man known and loved around the world.
Jan 19, 2016 Lenny rated it it was amazing
Exceptional story of a Hollywood star who started with virtually nothing.
Rachel Wagner
Aug 15, 2007 Rachel Wagner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
You might be surprised to find this on my list. My copy was actually autographed by Chan in San Francisco when it came out. It is a step up from the typical movie star biop. He grew up practically as an orphan under the care of a strict instructor at a Chinese Opera boarding school. He tells one story about wanting a bowl of rice so badly that he grabbed one off of a waiters tray and ate it in desperation. He did this knowing the severe punishments that were coming once they got back to school. ...more
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