Movie Review – Shinjuku Incident (2009)

Director: Tung-Shing Yee

Stars: Jackie Chan, Naoto Takenaka, Daniel Wu, Jinglei Xu, Masaya Kato, and some others

Steelhead (Chan) left China in search of his partner Xiu Xiu (Xu), and illegally emigrates to Japan in order to so. However, on the way he loses his documents and ends up being welcomed by his fellow immigrants in the Shinjuku district. The plot develops and Steelhead finds himself embroiled in gang wars, leading him to make surprising allies at the expense of the trust of his newfound family.

The main draw of Shinjuku Incident will be that it stars Jackie Chan. However, this is not a typical Jackie Chan movie. It’s a very gritty crime drama about a man with good principles who ends up compromising them while he’s surrounded by betrayal and deceit. There’s a lot of heavy material in here and it’s interesting to see Jackie Chan in a purely dramatic role where he has to rely on his acting talents rather than his martial arts prowess. That’s not to say there is no action, there are some impressive set pieces, but they are not the focus.

The dynamics between the Chinese immigrants and their place in Shinjuku is the focus, and these are really well-developed. I liked how Steelhead’s family built up, and was subsequently torn down. The other standout performer, aside fro Chan, is Wu, who plays Jie. At the beginning he’s a very earnest, timid character but the transformation he goes through is dramatic and tragic. In fact, there are a few scenes that people may find difficult to watch and the film pulls no punches.

The subplot with Steelhead trying to find Xiu Xiu is okay, although it doesn’t play as big a part in the film as you may suspect, it’s really just used to get Steelhead over to Japan. I felt that a plot thread was lingering with her so there was a lack of closure on that part, but otherwise it’s a strong film with a very engaging plot. If you like crime dramas you should check this out, but go in knowing that it’s not a typical Jackie Chan film.

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