Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘The Shinjuku Incident’ (2009)

He may be one of the worlds most famous international action stars but I am ashamed to say that the only film of his that I’d ever seen before this was the 2009 re-make of ‘The Karate Kid. I actually picked up ‘The Shinjuku Incident‘ on dvd last Christmas for a few quid in England and with a renewed interest in Chan following my trip to his homeland in May I decided to watch it again recently.

It is only because of Chan’s iconic world status that this is included in this series of film reviews which tends to principally focus on western-made films ‘set’ in the land of the rising sun. That oriental image of Japan is far removed in this tale of Chinese refugees fighting a war against the Yakuza in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo.

Provocative, compelling and underscored with hard hitting action, this pulse-pounding thriller explodes with tension, and delivers a career-defining performance from Jackie Chan. Not my words but those on the back of the dvd and for once I have to say that I  agree with most of the marketing blurb as it kept me entertained for its duration.

 

The story begins with dozens of Chinese immigrants entering Japan via Wakasa Bay (directly north of Osaka) and making their way to Tokyo where they do the less glamourous jobs that the Japanese don’t want to do. Steelhead (Chan) is an illegal worker hoping to make it in Japan the honest way but his life gradually descends into petty crime and from that he finds himself deeper and deeper in trouble as his crimes to help his people have a future get heavier and heavier. His one ally is Kitano; the Police sergeant he saved from drowning who is prepared to ‘re-pay his debt’ but he can only do so for so long.

Daniel Wu plays the chestnut selling boy Jie who is out of place amid the underground violence which they find themselves more and more drawn into. His portrayal in the first hour of the film is fine but in the second half his character has a real quick change of character which is questionable and not really fitting with the guy we saw in the earlier part.

This 114 minute Jackie Chan production can be a hard watch at times due to the extreme nature of some of the violence. Chan shows, as he did in ‘The Karate Kid‘, that he can act in a dramatic role when he needs to and I was happy to see that this was made for the Asian market and thereby didn’t need watering down for a Western audience.

Tokyo Fox Rating 7/10

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