Shinjuku Incident

Language: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese
Subtitles: English, Chinese (Simplified)
Cantonese Title: San Suk Si Gin
Mandarin Title: Xin Su Shi Jian
Release Date: April 2, 2009 (Hong Kong)
Available for viewing online at

     Jackie Chan’s mix of slapstick comedy with lighting-fast action has earned him the nickname “clown prince of kung fu.” In recent years in a desire to improve his acting skills and change his image, Chan has tried to take on roles that are more dramatic. His new Hong Kong movie, Shinjuku Incident, is definitely a stark contrast to his popular, but light Rush Hour movies. Shinjuku Incident is more violent than Chan’s typical films to the point that he and the movie’s director Derek Yee have decided to not release it in China  because they do not feel it will pass the government’s censors. They considered cutting out some of the violence, but decided against it because they felt the movie would lose some of its honesty.

     Jackie Chan’s last few movies have not been big hits and Shinjuku Incident will not end that streak.

     Steelhead (Chan) is an illegal immigrant that goes to Japan to find his missing girlfriend, Xiu Xiu (Xu Jinglei). After a few weeks of working low-paying jobs and beginning to lose faith that he’ll find her, Steelhead sees Xiu Xiu with another man. He learns that she is married to a Yakuza gang leader named Eguchi (Masaya Kato, Godzilla) and she’s changed her name to Yuko.

     After his friend Jie (Daniel Wu, Around the World in 80 Days) is attacked by a local gang, Steelhead organizes the other Chinese in the area to fight back. Steelhead becomes a community leader after his group has a successful encounter with the gang that attacked Jie. Steelhead meets Lily (Fan Bingbing), a nightclub owner, when he saves her from a robbery attempt. They quickly become friends with the possibility that their relationship may become more in the future. Steelhead also makes friends with a local police detective, Kitano (Naoto Takenaka), after he saves Kitano’s life.

     Steelhead eventually gets mixed up with Eguchi and the Yakuza hoping that he can use them to help set up legitmate businesses for himself and his friends. All heck breaks loose, when fighting begins within the Yakuza and greed starts to poison the minds of Steelhead’s friends.

     Longtime fans of Jackie Chan may be disappointed with Shinjuku Incident because the mix of laughs and kicks that has made Chan a international star are missing here. The laughs and smiles so common in other Chan movies are replaced with sorrow and anger. The punches and kicks we all enjoy are substituted with swords and knives slicing and dicing off anything that gets too close.

     Popular Hong Kong director Derek Yee, who also helped write the story for Shinjuku Incident with Chu Tin Nam, keeps the pace swift and tight. The action moves like a waterfall, not a meandering stream.

     Jackie Chan may have the appetite for more dramatic roles, but he may not have the talent to accomplish it. Jackie really tries to take a more serious approach to his acting in Shinjuku Incident, but its a little hard to believe after seeing him play so many silly characters in the past. It would be like trying to replace Tom Hanks in Forest Gump with Jim Carey. Some people, like Jamie Fox or Will Smith, have the talent to go between different genres like comedy, drama and action.  Some don’t! Sorry Jackie!

     Daniel Wu and Nato Takenaka give strong performances. While Xu Jinglei and Fan Bingbing show that they don’t only have beauty, but talent as actresses as well.

     For those looking for a familiar type of Jackie Chan movie, you’ll probably want to skip Shinkjuku Incident and hope that he’ll return to his beloved form very soon. 

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