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Movies Review

A Movie Review : Shinjuku Incident (2009)

Shinjuku IncidentI have lost my reading mojo for the whole of June and I have read only three books this month. I’m not wondering if this will pick up or not as I have too much in my mind to do any intense reading. Watching movie, however, takes less brain work for now!

Before you think this is another kungfu-flick, hold that thought! I don’t usually watch gangsta-Yakuza movies but I am willing to give Shinjuku Incident a go because of Jackie Chan.

Do not expect this to be a kung fu action film because in this movie Jackie Chan can’t do kung-fu. He does what other mobsters do in the far east, shoot with a gun or stab with a knife. For those who thinks Jackie Chan can’t act, he can. This film is the proof.

The film is produced by Jackie Chan’s production house and is a cautionary tale about the dangers and tribulations of being an illegal immigrant in the land of Japan.

Before China surpassed Japan to become the second biggest economy in the world, in the late 1980’s up to early 1990’s, there were many Chinese who made their way across the sea and work illegally in Japan.

Jackie Chan played a tractor mechanic nicknamed Steelhead enters Japan from China in search of his fiancée, Xiu-Xiu (Xu Jinglei) with the help of his “brother” Jie (Daniel Wu) from the same village. Jie has taught Steelhead how to make a living by teaching him the trades of the underworld. One day, while illegally working as part of a clean-up crew in the sewers, Steelhead and his Chinese comrades are spotted by the police. Not willing to get caught, Steelhead and the others run for their lives. In the ensuing turn of events, Steelhead saves Detective Kitano  (Takenaka Naoto) from drowning, and in gratitude, Kitano decides to stop pursuing Steelhead.

One night, while working in a restaurant with Jie, Steelhead finds his fiancée, Xiu-Xiu with Yakuza leader Eguchi (Masaya Kato). The Yakuza (Japanese mobster), runs a hierarchical system of elders and district leaders. The Yakuza has its influence that stretches across to politics, film industry and business. Eguchi faces his own issues as the son of the leader is plotting with the outsiders (Taiwanese gang who dominates one part of Tokyo) to finish him off.

Jie (Daniel Wu) was unlucky and got caught in a situation where he was punished severely by the Taiwanese gang, for things he didn’t do. This torture scene was the most gory and bloody scene of the movie, I literally walked away from the screen and came back after the torture is over.

Masaya Kato in a glance towards Steelhead (Jackie Chan) when he found out the latter was looking at his wife.

Masaya Kato in a glance towards Steelhead (Jackie Chan) when he found out the latter was looking at his wife.

There were strong casts from both Japan and China / HK. I thought the lead baddies and the goodies all look really good on movie. There was at least 3 different Chinese languages and dialects spoken in the movie (Mandarin, Cantonese and Taiwanese), a scene of a Japanese interpreter who could only speak Mandarin was at loose end when the illegal immigrants couldn’t understand him, reminds the outsiders that the Chinese in China do not necessarily speak the same language.

In such adrenaline pumping, testosterone-charged movie it could only be expected that the women casts take a back seat. Xiu-Xiu (Xu Jinglei) played the supportive Japanese wife to Eguchi. Lily (Fan Bingbing) was like Steelhead’s love interest, who own a bar. They both play their traditional roles in a man’s world in the movie.


Eguchi’s wife (Yuko, ex-Xiu Xiu), remind him the importance of being contented.

This is the first time I am introduced to Takenaka Naoto and Kato Masaya. The most memorable character was Daniel Wu (as Jie) as Nick’s younger brother. The movie sees Jie from the cheerful, happy-go-lucky roasted chestnut peddler into a downward spiral that ends with him being a mere haunted ghost and drugged-out shell of his former self.

The characters all started out as hopeful, positive and happier individuals only to find themselves involuntarily corrupted, compromised their values and principles for survival in a foreign land.


However, due to significant amounts of violence in the film, director Yee made a conscious decision not to release the film in mainland China. China does not have a film classification system, so films are released for all audiences. Yee considered toning down or cutting the violence in order to pass censorship, but felt it would hurt the integrity of the film. Chan, who was an investor in the film, agreed with Yee’s decision. The movie was released to a mixed review with some harsh critics coming from Jackie Chan’s home ground Hong Kong.

There were a lot of complicity, deceit, actions, comradeship and regrets in this crime, action drama, thriller multi-genre of a movie. The harsh and dirty conditions of work that the illegal immigrants do in Japan was sad and painful to watch. Whether you typecast Jackie Chan or not, I think this is a movie worth watching. Ambiguous characters with moral conflict and tough decisions to take, this movie stayed for a long time in my mind.

One other review see: Yakuza film review

I watched this on the 8th June 2013 Saturday.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


13 thoughts on “A Movie Review : Shinjuku Incident (2009)

  1. What?? A Jackie Chan movie with no kungfu?? And he uses a gun??? That’s all I needed to read to get me curious!!

    Thanks for doing this film review. I’d not heard of this movie before.

    Posted by olduvai | June 28, 2013, 9:13 pm
    • Olduvai,
      Yes!! A Jackie Chan without kungfu and his role in this movie doesn’t know how to do martial art!!!

      Go rent the movie and watch it and then tell me what you think! LOL 😀

      Posted by JoV | June 28, 2013, 9:37 pm
  2. This looks really good to me! I am a huge Chan fan!

    Posted by Ti | July 1, 2013, 5:10 pm
  3. hope you find your mojo ,not a chan I ve seen I loved his early hong kong films ,never quite sure of his comedy ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | July 2, 2013, 4:04 pm
  4. I’m sorry it took me so long to read your review.
    Very difficult to classify. I feel it’s more Chinese. It’s interesting to know, China has no classification system. I’ve never seen a Charlie Chan movie but this one tempts.
    Thanks for a gret review.

    Posted by Caroline | July 4, 2013, 7:08 pm
  5. Hmm…I am surprised to find movie review here 😉
    Great review Jo! I haven’t seen this movie yet even though I have been curious about it. I also like Jackie Chan and I think he is a good actor behind all his kung-fu action. I will watch this one day, just not sure when yet.

    Talking about losing mojo for reading…I know how you feel. I haven’t been reading anything for the past week. Holiday is not a good time for reading because I am too lazy to think during holiday. I enjoy myself by doing my other hobby, watching movies. Will get back to reading as soon as the holiday is over.

    Posted by Novroz | July 7, 2013, 11:35 am
    • Novroz,
      I participated in Caroline (Beauty is a sleeping cat) movie competition. That’s why you find movie review here.

      My job at work now involves a lot of writing and documenting procedures, so I can’t sit down and write anything else besides that. and then there is… Ramadan.

      Ramadhan Karim Novroz. Have a blessed one.

      Posted by JoV | July 10, 2013, 8:51 am


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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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