Writer defends Jackie Chan's controversial memoir

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 6, 2018
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The co-author of Jackie Chan's memoir "Never Grow Up" has defended the book and the Chinese kung fu icon, accusing some foreign media of engaging in sensational and false news reporting by focusing on the dark side of Chan's life.

The book cover art for the English version of Jackie Chan's memoir "Never Grow Up." [Photo courtesy of Gallery Books]

"Never Grow Up" was initially published in a Chinese edition back in 2015. On Dec. 4, Gallery Books finally published an English version. 

The English tabloid newspaper Daily Mail and several other Western media were quick to pick up negative, sometimes salacious details from the book, including Chan calling himself a "jerk," throwing his two-year-old son across the room, as well as the stories of how he loved gambling, lavishing money on idle pursuits, sleeping with prostitutes and often driving while drunk. 

However, Chan grew to regret his early behavior, blaming the actions on his insecurities and immaturity. Digging up his dark side was intended to show his honesty in being able to reflect upon himself and facing his own inner demons.

The 352-page English version is translated by Jeremy Tiang. In "Never Grow Up," the global star reflects on his early life, including his childhood years at the China Drama Academy in which he was enrolled at the age of six, his big breaks and setbacks in Hong Kong and Hollywood, his numerous brushes with death both on and off film sets, and his life as a husband and father which, admittedly, proved regrettably, imperfect.

The co-author of the book, Zhu Mo, said the English version was a direct translation from the previously-published Chinese one. "There is nothing different between the versions and word choices," Zhu said on her personal account on his Weibo microblog on Dec. 4. 

Zhu further denounced the U.K. tabloid for misinterpretation, taking things out of context and engaging in making sensationalism, "it has been banned in 2017 as a news source for Wikipedia because its news reports are often unreliable, without attempts to check facts, it even publishes totally false news and stories designed to cause a sensation," she explained, "All those who still use it as source to produce more stories obviously have some agenda, and they are shameful."

The writer added that "Never Grow Up" was actually praised by mainstream media and had been published in dozens of languages around the world, while defending the kung fu star, "He is a name card to represents all Chinese. When his candid life memoir can be seen by more people in more countries, it is something we can be proud of."

Booklist reviews it as "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," while a critic writes for Kirkus Reviews that "the book is definitively warts (and cracked skulls and broken bones and gallons of blood) and all... but Chan also reveals a soulful, thoughtful side - just one you wouldn't want to mess with."

Zhu, born in 1983, was working for Chan in marketing his film "CZ12" back in 2012, and her hard-working spirit was seen and appreciated by Chan. When she later proposed to record stories about his life that Chan told his working staff from time to time while on film sets and compiled them into a book, Chan gave her a green light. 

Jackie Chan, 64, one of the most recognizable and influential Kung fu stars in the world, is known by the world for more than 200 movies in which he has starred in, such as "Rush Hour," "Rumble in the Bronx," "The Karate Kid," and even the animated feature "Kung Fu Panda." Born Chan Kong-sang in Hong Kong, he has been admired by generations of moviegoers for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing and mind-bending stunts. 

"I was always a big fan of Jackie and working with him was like a dream come true. His innovative and creative ability was unmatched," Chris Tucker, co-star of "Rush Hour", said in a quote to promote the book.

Chan is currently the second highest paid actor in the world, earning US$50 million last year, according to Forbes. His personal fortune is estimated at US$350 million. He received an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievements in film in 2016. His new film "The Knight of Shadows Between Yin and Yang," is set for release during next year's Spring Festival.

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