Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang YangWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Protégé", "Blood Brothers"
Since Derek Yee last brought us that uncomfortable yet brilliant viewing experience that was "Protege" (2007), we've been starved of HK movies that insist on that kind of attention to detail. Reported to have taken 10 years to make, "Shinjuku Incident" is the sort of project that happens every once in a while, when a movie from that region combines extra-substantial storytelling with star appeal.
Big Bro Jackie plays reluctant hero Steelhead in this, an immigrant Chinese who goes to Shinjuku in search for a better life and also his one-time lover Xiuxiu (Xu Jinglei). Slogging through the Japanese dirt, he finds friends among those in the same boat (sometimes, quite literally) and works his way into yakuza favour via a few lucky moves, even meeting a new mamasan chick along the way (Fan Bingbing). Daniel Wu seems to have taken up after some kind of Joker or Two-Face influence (watch his character arc), playing his compatriot sidekick.
A few odd things to note for industry observers - Ken Watanabe's disappearance from the project doesn't seem too much of a deal now, especially when Naoto Takenaka is ace as the recurring detective who favours Steelhead. However, Xu getting top billing ahead of the now more watchable and popular Fan is peculiar. Jackie Chan's less-than-wholesome anti-hero portrayal might shock some of his longtime fans, too.
The sheer number of characters is quite surprising, considering it isn't an epic or franchise. With solid turns from Masaya Kato (slick prettyboy yakuza Eguchi) and Jack Kao (Taiwanese head honcho), it harks back to the days when you could purposefully fit so many people in a movie, like the "Young And Dangerous" series - which in turn begets the longing for some of the old-time faces like Roy Cheung to appear and chop off a pinky or two.
Going for character development, Jackie Chan fans might be a little disappointed that this isn't a newer police story or a Shinjuku version of "Rumble In The Bronx" but you still get to see a few stunts here and there. By and large, the picture is "Blood Brothers" (2007) starring Fan Bingbing instead of Shu Qi, with messier editing and scoring, though the violence is similarly intact.
Jackie Chan gave assurance that the Mainland Chinese will get to see some edited form of the movie (there is a ban), so other territories can count ourselves lucky we are watching most of it. Just don't hate Jackie for being the anti-hero. Unlike Stephen Chow, at least he still wants to act for his fans.Cinema Online, 01 April 2009