Archive for Shinjuku Incident

Shinjuku Incident Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on October 28, 2009 by Adam Broome

Shinjuku IncidentI sat in a rather curious state in the middle of the lecture theatre as the lights went down. I had been given a brief outline about this film, of which I had no prior knowledge about. It was controversial to the point of being banned in China, that much was clear. But would it have the same shock value to a Western audience?

Assuming, like me, you were not aware of this movie, Shinjuku Incident stars Jackie Chan outside his usual ‘chop-socky’ role to play an illegal Chinese immigrant who sneaks into Japan in search of his girlfriend, who has disappeared there. Taking up abode in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Chan’s character ‘Steelhead’ realises his girlfriend has got involved with the local Yakuza, who, it transpires, absolutely despise Chinese immigrants. It isn’t long before a very violent game of cat and mouse has started up, involving various in-fighting Yakuza clans and the police, with Steelhead’s friends caught up right in the middle of the fray.

It was nice to see Jackie Chan in a more intense role. He pulls it off with gusto, and reveals to us that he is actually a very good actor. As he carries the story, he receives support from a strong cast that all portray characters you care about, making the violence a lot more shocking when it appears. The story is very realistic as well, which adds further threat in the increasingly desperate situations that occur. And yes… this is a very violent film. I have never seen an audience responding to a film as much as I did earlier today – gasping in horror at the events on screen. It wouldn’t sound like much if I wrote it on here, but I would say it gives Ichi The Killer and Audition a run for their money.

The one thought that did occur to me was that this was, essentially, Scarface in an Eastern setting. An immigrant infiltrates a country, and rises through the ranks to become a powerful underworld figure (via a series of violent face-offs). And inevitably, it ends in a massive bloodbath. The controversy and thought-provoking aspect of the film was slightly lost on me, but that is to be expected, as my historical knowledge of the underlying rivalries between Japan and China are somewhat limited.

All things considered, I would say this a realistic film that has some very good acting, although perhaps the intended meaning is lost to some extent if you’re not familiar with the cultures represented within. If you like Quentin Tarantino’s films, you will probably get something out of this. The plot could have been a lot more interesting, given the vast wealth of characters introduced to us, rather than essentially telling us a linear story that goes straight from A to B. And I mentioned Scarface. Yeah… the ending is nowhere near as epic.