Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shinjuku Incident: Grade C


Shinjuku Incident (2009)

Jackie Chan, Naoto Takenaka, Daniel Wu; Co-writer and Director Tung-Shing Yee. (Chinese, subtitled or dubbed).

Jackie Chan is a simple farmer in China when his wife (or girlfriend, I wasn't clear), goes off to Japan on some errand and does not return. He goes to Japan, where, as a way to survive as an illegal immigrant, he falls in with ethnic Chinese gangsters in Tokyo. Because of his cunning, wit, and fighting skill, he is soon the head of the gang, which bumps against the Japanese yakuza (Mafia). He’s a good gang leader, but being formerly a country farmer, remains innocent of the darker currents moving around him. His innocence is further challenged when he does find his wife.

Chan is still a great martial arts choreographer as he demonstrates with a few of his signature graceful and witty street fights, but this is not primarily a martial arts film. Rather it is an odd blend of gritty, urban Hong Kong crime drama (set in Tokyo), martial arts, and a character-driven drama of one man’s journey. Chan, and the rest of the cast, demonstrate some serious acting. The scenes and sets in Tokyo are great (especially those in the underground Shinjuku train station, my favorite city-within-a-city). Cinematography and directing are noticeably good. The conventions of the Hong Kong genre are followed, so much of the narrative is predictable, but this is an interesting variation on a theme, worth seeing.

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