Thursday, April 02, 2009

SHINJUKU INCIDENT: New Side of Jackie Chan

SHINJUKU INCIDENT (action drama)
Starring: Jackie Chan, Daniel Wu, Naoto Takenaka, Fan Bingbing, Jack Kao, Masaya Kato and Xu Jinglei
Director: Derek Yee
Time: 118 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Here's another Jackie Chan flick where he will NOT be doing any martial arts stunts or wirefu sequences. Well, they have said Jackie would not be doing any fighting in The Myth but he was still involved in some martial arts scenes. This one is mostly 'serious acting' which, for the kungfu veteran meant looking confused and perplexed.

However, if you think that since Jackie is 'immobilised', Shinjuku Incident is nothing but a political drama, perish the thought. Under the direction of Derek Yee (of One Night In Mongkok and Protege fame), this movie has been considered so violent that Yee had to cut off some scenes so that it will get past China's censorship board.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Jackie is a tractor mechanic from China, nicknamed Steelhead, who emigrates to Japan illegally to seek his old flame Xiu-Xiu (Xu Jinglei) and start a new life. This, however, remains a dream as the two lovers have to go their separate ways to find work.

Steelhead ends up in Tokyo's red-light district of Shinjuku where he joins a group of Chinese refugees to work at garbage dumps, sewers and restaurants. Of course, temptations are rife and the aliens get involve in fraud and other criminal activities run by the Yakuza. One night, while working at a restaurant, Steelhead sees Xiu-Xiu and discovers that she is married to Japanese mobster named Eguchi (Masaya Kato). From then on, he resolves to do whatever it takes to get rich and start his own tractor business.

HITS & MISSES: Director Yee, who co-wrote the screenplay with Chun Tin-Nam, has had a great deal of experience with gangster movies and here he manages to highlight the cultural differences between the Japanese and Chinese in profound and humorous ways. Besides these, he throws in a couple of interesting subplots, including one about a personal 'pact' between Steelhead and a cop named Kitano (Naoto Takenaka).

Jackie is not known for his wide range of facial expressions or for great performances. Here he gets by as a hardworking man respected by both his friends and rivals. The one who steals the show is Daniel Wu who plays Jie, Steelhead's village pal who transforms from a cowardly hawker to a maniacal drug trafficker. Others, like Lam Suet and Chin Kar Lok fit the bill nicely as fellow refugees trying to eke out a living in a world that's hostile to aliens.

THE LOWDOWN: A reasonably well-made film with Jackie Chan's touch.


At 8:12 pm, Blogger Jesse said...

Good review of the movie you have here.

However, it would be great, if you could add your personal observations and views as regards the movie.

The movie struck a very personal chord with me.

When I watched Shinjuku Incident, I could "read" the movie, essentially right from the start up till the end.

The only scene that had me startled and sighed in disbelief was when I learned of Chin Kar Lok's Hongkie's true character.

For us adults, personal betrayal is by far, one of the worse things that we could ever expect to happen in our lives.

Keep up with the good work.

Good readings on movies and movie reviews alike are not easily found here on the Net.

At 1:06 am, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Hey Jesse,
Nice to hear from you again. And thanks for the suggestion. It was a well-made movie but it did not affect me personally as it did you.

I could not possibly mention Hongkie's betrayal for it would be a spoiler.

Thanks again and take care.


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