Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shinjuku incident

There's a review on Netflix by Larry Dribble, "What a piece of crap. Don't waste your time with this one. Jackie Chan must be real hard up to be in this one. I've seen more action in a Day Care Center."

The movie in question is Shinjuku Incident.

Mr. Dribble was presumably expecting a "Jackie Chan movie", whatever that is exactly.

This movie would be better understood, however, as a Derek Yee movie.

More interestingly, it is a Yakuza movie, and that would be the best starting place to understand it.

It starts out slowly, and perhaps a bit more disjointedly than needed to effectively convey the story or the mood. Chan's character emigrates to Japan illegally in order to find his lost love, Xiu Xiu. In order to survive, he finds himself caught up in small crimes.

A series of unpleasant events leads to Chan and his group of illegal Chinese imigrants, including Daniel Wu and Lam Suet, to come together and to grow in power.

The obvious comparison to a modern American audience would be to Brian DePalma's Scarface, although this movie is more realistic and less operatic, which was preferable to me, at least in this case.

There's a part, or more, in which events seem to take place in too close a succession to be as effective as they could have. Perhaps some subplot could have been expanded, say the story of the inspector played by Naoto Takenaka, or the entire movie could have develop outside of chronological order, as it had been in the beginning.

That said, it's a effective dramatic movie. Chan and Wu both give powerful performances. Chan begins the movie as a tired man, out of place in the land he's come to and develops confidence throughout. It's subtle and strangely beautiful performance.

Chan is slowly moving away from the "action star" persona, which makes sense at 56 years old. I'd say that from this that he should be able to do that without much trouble, although Mr. Dribble's reaction could show a larger problem in his trying to branch out.

The Genius of Jackie Chan by Grady Hendrix has me more excited about Jackie Chan than I usually am. In the last decade or more, I've nearly forgotten that I really am a fan.

I'm even tempted to check out the new The Karate Kid to see his performance. I've not been convinced not to wait until it comes out on video, but that still a big step for me on this one.

More than that, I'm excited for Little Big Soldier:

Sometimes, it's good to be reminded of things that make me happy. I may have to go back and watch Police Story again one day soon.

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