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100% Jackie Chan: The Essential Companion – Book Review

100% Jackie Chan book

Edited by: Richard Cooper and Mike Leeder
Introduction by: Jackie Chan

Published by: Titan Books

Compiled from the pages of Screen Power magazine (the world’s premiere publication dedicated to all Jackie Chan, all the time), 100% Jackie Chan is an exhaustive look at the action legend, in the form of dozens of interviews with Chan and his co-stars, candid photos, behind-the-scenes reports, and film/DVD reviews. Topped off with an introduction by Chan himself, it’s a real treasure trove of information for the die-hard fans of his work (or just the genre of martial arts films as a whole, seen through the lens of one of its most famous sons).

Cooper and Leeder are both regulars on the Screen Power staff, and are in fact responsible for a number of the interviews and other articles collected here. Their familiarity with Chan’s body of work is phenomenal, and makes their interviews and comments all the more insightful into Jackie’s career. All the authors collected here are very passionate about their love for Chan’s films, and that affection is extended to the star himself, in large part due to his legendary good nature and friendliness. Among the movie star set, Chan remains approachable, congenial, and humble about his place in the collective imagination, and the interviews here show that off nicely.

[ad#longpost]The discussions with co-stars and colleagues like Daniel Wu, Sammo Hung, Stanley Tong, and Ken Low reveal that Jackie Chan is equally beloved by his peers–there isn’t anything even remotely approaching a harsh word, criticism, or complaint about Chan’s style, personality, or work ethic. With all the typical bickering and primadonna posturing common among the bulk of Hollywood’s elite, it’s nice to know that somebody still acts like a normal human being.

The quality of the material here is pretty good, though obviously a bit skewed in its presentation by the affiliation with a magazine that covers nothing but Jackie Chan. But this was never intended as a book for those merely curious about Chan himself–there’s not a great deal of biographical data outside of his filmography presented. This book is for people that, like the authors and editors, love Chan and his work. It’s written by fans, for fans, and drawn from a fan-zine. One can hardly expect them to suddenly turn academic and critical on their subject matter when compiling a book.

About the only real weakness of the product is that, other than Jackie’s intro, it presents no new material. Subscribers to the magazine have seen all this stuff already (perhaps excepting a few photos here and there). It makes a great condensed version for those of us that weren’t aware there even WAS a Jackie Chan magazine, though. If you’ve got a kung-fu fanatic on your shopping list during the holiday season, you’d do well to give this one some consideration.

Grade: B-