Shinjuku Incident is a 2009 Hong Kong style directed crime-drama film starring the venerable Jackie Chan under the direction of Derek Yee. The one oddball thing about this movie is that Jackie Chan is like an eagle without its wing based on the character that he plays in this film. Yes, you heard me right, Jackie Chan is basically grounded throughout the entire Shinjuku Incident! There are no flashes of Buster Keaton, Gene Kelly, or Fred Astaire. No slapstick humor or any comedic relief, whatsoever! There are no traces of the Drunken Master, Police Story, or Rush Hour. No scaling walls or stunts to make you say wow! This movie is flatline serious drama! The basic notion of this flick without giving too many details that would ruin the transaction of your viewing glory is a story about the abundance of illegal immigrants of Chinese descent ungraced onto the shores of Japan & some eventually wandered into the urban lifestyle of the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Shinjuku is a section of Tokyo that is quite reminiscent of the old times square in New York City of the 70’s & 80’s. Hookers, drugs, drinking, scallywags, & gangbangers dominate the scene in this area. Jackie Chan & friends loathe onto the shores of Japan illegally in hopes to find a better way of life. The struggles of the illegal chinese are further compounded by Japan’s elite status & scoffing of non-japanese. Some manifestations from the journey on making a living in Japan include working in landfills, cleaning the underground sewer system, washing dishes, then elevating to hustling on the streets selling counterfeit phone cards, and stealing products to resell to southeast asian vendors. Pachinko machines are also rigged to provide extraordinary payouts. Shinjuku Incident takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions running away from the police and into the arms of the underworld with no apparent winners at the end! It was very ironic that Jackie’s character saved the life of Eguchi, a gangster who so happens to be the husband of Jackie’s girlfriend from “Timbuktoo” China who escaped the farm & peasantry life for a more promising future in Japan! The plot thickens when Jackie is hired by Eguchi to assassinate a few of his mobster rivals. After the successful massacre, Jackie was elevated as one of the leaders to manage the chinese clan to replace a Taiwanese mobster who betrayed Eguchi.
Shinjuku Incident had many naysayers from the film critics, but I found the movie to be quite entertaining. I was on the edge of my seat in the beginning of the movie, waiting for Jackie Chan to explode with morsels of chop socky goodness & to open up a can of whoop ass on the Japanese, but after a few confrontations, I began to understand that the Drunken master & police story characters were not going to come out of the woodworks. After realizing this, I started to appreciate Jackie’s character for what he was, just the average “Joe”, or maybe “Chan” in this case with no superhuman feats of martial excellence! I’ve never seen Jackie act in this particular setting before, or at least I don’t remember him playing in any roles like this in the past. I’m sure one of you Planet Chocko martians can tell me different. One thing is for sure, this movie had lots of opportunites to display kung fu wizardry, eye popping stunts, & fighting that we are accustomed to seeing in a hong kong production. The feel of this movie kind of took me back to the “Fist of Legend” and “Chinese Connection” because of the dominance of the Japanese. But the classic action of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, nor Bruce Lee never did materialize. Instead, the plot & story of this movie were left to stand on it’s own, the story about the migration of illegal chinese immigrants to the shores of Japan in the 1990’s to find better opportunities. Part of me wanted the ‘everyone was kung fu fighting’ scenes of epical proportions , but I enjoyed the movie nonetheless. So, pickup a bowl of ramen, get some tempura to wet the appetite, & just chill’ax to Shinjuku Incident!

–Mr. C (6 out of 10 shots of Sake!)

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