The beloved martial artist and stuntman of films such as Rush Hour reflects on his rags-to-riches life story, from childhood poverty in Hong Kong to a decade enrolled in the harsh China Drama Academy to his rise to stardom in Hong Kong and Hollywood cinema.
... impossibly colorful ... It's all told with Chan's blunt speaking style, which makes the revelations powerful—from his legitimately deadly screen stunts to his prattish star behavior toward a string of broken-hearted loves ... Chan only pulls back from the candor with his eventual Hollywood success (he was granted an honorary Oscar last year). For example, the section detailing 2010's The Karate Kid with Will and Jaden Smith is disappointingly thin.
Never Grow Up, in mostly inadvertent ways...offers another way of telling Jackie Chan’s story. It’s about colonialism, capitalism, and the myths we construct to justify living under both ... every episode in this memoir, even the most traumatic, is told with Chan’s indefatigable merriness, which as the book goes on starts to feel like a protective mechanism, a carapace of cheer ... Each trial is a stepping stone to the super-stardom that will legitimize everything that came before, rather than an examination of the ways in which being poor and Chinese in a colonial city in the 1950s might have messed a person up ... what to my mind reads like a brutal account of exploitation and abuse is meant to be inspirational, a testament not only to Chan’s personal fortitude, but also to a certain ethic ... the myth of the self-made man ... read as a Hong Kong success story, it leaves the unfortunate impression that the only way to make it in this town was to literally almost kill yourself with work. It is a shame that Chan is unable to evoke in his writing the joyful magic of a Jackie Chan fight scene ... It is a shame, too, that Chan does not say much about his filmmaking style ... The reader is left not with a reminder of Jackie Chan’s genius, but with the rather sad story of his very successful life. It is an old colonial tale, the hapless provincial who becomes worldly, though in Chan’s case he doesn’t evolve beyond being a clownish parvenu ... If Chan once represented what a Hong Konger could do with a little pluck and a little luck, his relentlessly buoyant memoir offers a different message: Life is hard, so one must be harder.
This plainspoken, breezy, and sympathetic memoir (translated from the original Chinese) reveals the life story behind the sunny smile of one of cinema’s most popular action stars ... Just as impressive as Chan’s intense work ethic and dedication to doing his own stunts is the list he provides of nearly two-dozen stunt-related injuries he has suffered over the years ... This is a worthy addition to library collections not only because of Chan’s worldwide fame but also for the value of a non-Western Hollywood success story.