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Shinjuku Incident – Review September 1, 2009

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.


Jackie Chan plays a tractor mechanic nicknamed Steelhead and enters Japan illegally like many others in the 1990’s. There he meets Jie (Daniel Wu), his friend and they do laboring jobs to make a living. Steelhead also meets bar owner Lily while a turf war is brewing in Shinjuku between rival Yakuza gangs. While at the bar, Steelhead recognizes the wife of a mob boss who happens to be someone from his past. He can no longer resist the urge to get involved. Set mostly in Tokyo, Derek Yee’s hard-boiled, gangster flick Shinjuku Incident has some pretty nasty violence. A defiente change for those used to domesticated Jackie Chan films.

As Steelhead, Jackie Chan has finally moved on from his “Mr. Nice Guy” image. He is now hard-edged and morally ambiguous with no cues for graceful acrobatic stunts or heroic showdowns. Since he’s there illegally, life gets tougher, and Steelhead decides to earn a living by doing illegal activities, including selling phony phone cards and cheating at slot machines by tampering with the microchips. Jackie Chan’s last few movies have not been big hits and Shinjuku Incident will not end that streak. At least, it is better than The Tuxedo, right? Fans of Chan may be disappointed with Shinjuku Incident because the mix of laughs and kicks that has made Chan a international star are missing here. Replacing the laughs and smiles are sorrow and anger.


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. What he have is a welcome change of pace for Asia’s biggest export, he even bags himself a sex scene, and Jackie Chan fans will be happy to hear that Derek Yee has crafted an entertaining flick. So, again, Chan’s attempt to separate himself from his previous cinematic endeavors is commendable, I just kind of wished he had chosen a stronger project. Shinjuku Incident does contain a few fight sequences, though all of them are chaotic, graceless, and a bit sloppy.

The other acting is very solid. I mean after all the whole cast is made up of veteran actors which could act without effort at any given time. Suet Lam, Daniel Wu, and especially veteran Japanese actor Naoto Takenaka impress as well. Sadly, Too many plot holes and bad pacing had spoiled what could be a movie of both technical and scriptwriting brilliance. But apart from its faults, Shinjuku Incident is really worth watching. Sure, it may be difficult to follow and may not have much of an after-effect but it certainly proves to people that not only can Jack Chan act but can also play a deep character. Hopefully, it gets a more wide recognized release in America.



1. hagiblog - September 1, 2009

It’s nice to hear that Jackie Chan isn’t always the smiling, funny good guy. Even if his performance may be hard to accept, I’d be interested to see this one based on that fact alone.

2. Akuma - September 1, 2009

Jackie Chan not being funny…. thats impossible lol
i’ll have to see it to believe it…
anyways nice review

3. Fortress Guy - September 5, 2009

Just stopped by again. You are nicely prolific in your reviews. I understand people’s issues with Chen in cases like this.

He can portray serious traits, it is just that people prefer them wrapped in a “nice guy” character. Almost all his nice bumbling yet incredible fighter characters “get serious” at some point in his films.

I hope Chan does not blame The Tuxedo results on his character. That movie had bigger problems.

4. miz - September 14, 2009

I would prefer to see Chen in more serious roles at times, but he is pretty typecast, so perhaps there is an attempt, but I imagine people can’t get over the fact that he is an action star with a lot of brawn, although have you ever seen Gorgeous? That was with Shu Qi, and that was decent..

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