Read (Years Ago): Never Grow Up

JackieChan

This book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for $13.99.

I read this sometime in 2015, and it was in Mandarin (Simplified Chinese), the original context. It was a good read, despite having my reservations.

IMHO, Jackie Chan has a 50/50 reputation in Mainland China (I lived in Beijing for a decade, at least this was/is my takeaway from observing netizens and their ruthless comments). Acting aside, while he is despised for his playboy image, he is also wildly admired for his generosity (charitable causes and how he treats his film crew, for example).

JCandZM

Jackie Chan and Zhu Mo, author of his biography, “Never Grow Up”.

I read the book with mixed emotions, as the author of the book, Zhu Mo, literally wrote it with his blessing and did not include much of her own opinions (or any at all). This is in comparison to (and also, in contrast with) other (western) superstar biographies which dared to challenge often popular yet sensitive topics (e.g. lifestyle, drug use, negative press).

While this was a super fluffy read, it was no doubt an emotional experience especially if you are familiar with all his films stemming from the early 80s. I can’t say I’ve watched all his films, but I have certainly watched every single blockbuster and every single film that was screened across Hong Kong’s theaters (if it was screened in Hong Kong’s movie theaters, you bet it will make its way to the VCRs of most overseas Chinese households who has a special nostalgia penchant place in the heart for Hong Kong TV dramas and films). The most engaging part of the book for me, was Jackie Chan’s stories and afterthoughts of his fellow “band of brothers”, specifically those who’ve stood by him all these decades.

However, the book only barely scratched the surface of his most controversial downfall since Becoming Jackie Chan – his affair with a fellow Hong Konger cum slash queen Etta Ng. Needless to say it mentioned nothing close to her decision to have their baby, followed by his very public decision not to acknowledge the child but only to admit guilt over the affair, to which he “apologized” for. The way it was pictured in the biography – was somewhat predictable. There’s no way a “goody-two-shoes” author like Zhu Mo, one I assume to be a super big fan of Jackie’s – would choose to upset or annoy him with further probes, let alone publish it for the world to see.

It was also predictable (and unfortunate) that no one of importance else was interviewed for sound bites, e.g. his wife, once a superstar herself; their only son, Jaycee Chan; and other superstars and movie industry big shots. Maybe there was, I could be wrong but I honestly do not recall any other forms of narrative from the book other than an “intimate” Q&A with Jackie Chan and how she presented it – like an awfully shy, but insanely mesmerized and starstruck little girl on her first book assignment (she’s in her 30s).

But yes, that was an unpopular observation. To each (author) their own, I guess. Maybe not “interview”, but citing other resources as a means to continue with the flow of the memoir could give readers another perspective. After all, this wasn’t written by Jackie Chan, the man himself. I hope you catch my drift.

It was a good read, nonetheless. Like most reads, the original context is the best form. Translated versions are necessary and equally of high importance so that the world could share and learn from each other. I hope you will enjoy the English version, and that you’ve watched at least a dozen of his films, otherwise it could be a bit difficult to get into the mood.

Jackie Chan is a legend, but this book didn’t quite make him out to be one.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.