Shinjuku Incident (2009) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Original Mandarin Title: 新宿事件
Release Date: April 2, 2009 
Directed by: Derek Yee
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese Hokkien, Japanese
Music by: Peter Kam
Starring: Jackie Chan, Daniel Wu, Chin Kar-lok, Xu Jinglei, Fan Bingbing, Jack Kao, Lam Suet, Kenneth Low, Paul Chun, Kathy Yuen Ka Yi, Teddy Lin, Ringo Chan Ka Leong, Lesley Chiang, Gladys Fung Ho Sze, Randy Muscles, Hayama Hiro, Naoto Takenaka, Masaya Kato, Yasuaki Kurata, Kenya Sawada, Minegeshi Toru

Steelhead (Jackie Chan) arrives at Japan shores as an illegal immigrant with the other thousands from different nationalities seeking for a better life. But Steelhead is not only looking for a better living but to find his the whereabouts of his fiancée, Xiu Xiu (Xu Jinglei).

For two days, he has been searching for the right direction given by her fiancée’s mother back in China. Steelhead was originally a tractor mechanic but due to his fiancée mother illness, he has taken the task to find her. He arrived in Shinjuku and found the place where she used to live with the other Chinese immigrants. He was welcomed by Jie (Daniel Wu).

Steelhead (Jackie Chan) and Jie (Daniel Wu)

Jie introduced Steelhead with some trusted friends: Hong Kong Boy (Chin Kar-lok), Lao Gwei (Lam Suet), Dai (Kenneth Lo) and several others. Without food since his arrival in Japan, Steelhead rushes to eat some food.

Together with Jie and the rest, Steelhead makes a living by becoming construction worker, sewer worker and selling telephone cards.

One night, Inspector Kitano (Naota Takenaka) receives a tip on the illegal immigrants location. He and his team with a Chinese interpreter went down to the sewer until he sound the alarm to halt all workers. Steelhead and Jie makes a run only to be caught in between with the others. The Chinese interpreter is of no use by all means because he cannot understand dialects.

Inspector Kitano speaks Mandarin with a Japanese accent when he questioned Steelhead on the salary basis of which he is getting. The inspector was shocked to hear that the illegal workers are 8,000 short from the normal working rates of 15,000 yen per day. Jie creates a commotion and everyone started to flee the scene.

The inspector slipped into the sewer water only to be pulled by the current and shouting for help because he cannot swim. Steelhead saves him and fled the area.

Recent news on the television sparks animosity on the death of the Yakuza leader – Iwaida Jiro. Many clans under him pays respect to him at his funeral. While activists raise their voices for a campaign to anti-yakuza. As the tension grows, a new leader will be promoted to lead the existing clans.

Due to the sewer incident, Steelhead works as dish washer at a restaurant only to be spotted by the kind and gentle restaurant owner Lily (Fan Bingbing) who offers him money.

Lily (Fan Bingbing) and Steelhead

Lily is not only the owner of her own restaurant but also a social escort for her clients. She left with a Japanese man only to be attacked by a group of hooligans asking her for money. Steelhead rescued her.

Xiu Xiu aka Yuko Eguchi (Xu Jinglei) with her husband Toshinari Eguchi (Masaya Kato)

One late evening, Steelhead and Jie works in a classy restaurant. There, he spotted Taiwanese gangster Gao (Jack Kao) shaking hand with yakuza leader Toshinari Eguchi (Masaya Kato) and he saw his fiancée, Xiu Xiu. Both of them did not acknowledged each other.

Back home, Jie has dreams of having his own roasted-chestnut cart. Jie is not fond of doing illegal things such as selling illegal telephone cards or changing the silverballs at a Pachinko game centre.

So, Steelhead and the rest decided to buy him one for his future. While selling his chestnuts along the streets, he caught up with Shizuko (Kathy Yuen Ka Yi). She is the daughter of Uncle Tak (Paul Chun) who works for the yakuzas. Uncle Tak was angered by Jie’s presence that he bring him inside his bar only to be beaten up and had his carried stolen away.

Jie returns home on a bloody new year. Steelhead decides to not hold on any longer that he wants revenge. So he brought along whoever is on his side and attack the bar. Uncle Tak was nothing but a coward. But all Steelhead wants is the chestnut cart.

Steelhead retrieves the cart from the back alley only to be halted by Inspector Kitano, who wants to thank him for saving his life earlier while almost drowned in the sewer.

The next night, Jie was selling roasted-chestnut near the Pachinko game shop belonging to a Taiwanese gangster Gao Jie. Dai requested Jie to take care of his seat while he needs to head to the bathroom.

Unknown to the circumstances that the pachinko machine was rigged by Dai so he can earn more money. And on such situation, Gao and his gang was also searching for the culprit who rig his machine. Jie was caught by Gao and brought to the back alley. Dai saw the incident and went back to inform Steelhead about this matter.

Not only Jie is innocent and naive, he has a tough luck. Although, Jie pleaded not guilty of rigging his machine; Gao did not trust him and wants to know the real culprit. Gao had his men holding tight on Jie to carve a scar across with a pen-knife  between eyes and cheeks. Then he grabbed Jie hand and pushed it into the frying pan and chopped his hand. Jie screams in pain and agony on the lost of his hand.

Steelhead arrived too late to find Jie all wounded and wanting his hand back. Gao returns his fried hand and stepped on it as punishment for those who rigged his machine.

The following night, Steelhead wants blood for blood that he went over to Gao’s meeting via a backdoor only to find a Japanese yakuza. Kyohei Togawa (Hayama Hiro) wants Eguchi dead if Gao wants Kabuki-cho. After Togawa left, Eguchi came along.

The meeting was a set up to have Eguchi killed. Eguchi managed to evade the attack and suffered minor injury across the chest, only to be unintentionally saved by Steelhead who has been hiding behind a wall. Steelhead slashes Gao’s arm for the sake of Jie.

Eguchi returns home with Steelhead as Xiu Xiu relieve that Eguchi is safe. She is no longer known as Xiu Xiu instead she is called Yuko Eguchi and even had a daughter named Ayako.

Then Eguchi proposed to Steelhead to assassinate two important persons: Tora Togawa (Yasuaki Kurata) and Koichi Muranishi (Minegeshi Toru) so as he will give Shinjuku territory to Steelhead.

Steelhead accepts the job and thus these assassination has made Eguchi becomes the bosses of all bosses, the head of Sanwa-kai. However, Eguchi’s right-hand man, Hiromasa Nakajima (Kenya Sawada) is not satisfied with his leader’s decision on giving Shinjuku to the Chinese.

Nakajima (Kenya Sawada) passing the legal documents of Shinjuku territory to Steelhead

Under Steelhead care, Shinjuku becomes more lively and safe and prosper to do so. But he has no idea on the current doings of his friends are actually causing behind his back. Steelhead even set up a restaurant for legal purposes. And because of his connection to Eguchi, he and his friends has become a legal citizen of Japan. Uncle Tak came with the rest of the Chinese gangs offering protection fees of which Steelhead do not really approve.

Inspector Kitano find this amusing yet he hopes Steelhead would stay away from further trouble with the yakuzas.

Dressed in black with funky white afro and wearing gothic-style make-up, Jie is different person. He sells drugs to young people. He, Hong Kong boy, Dai and Lao Gwei all has changed since gaining freedom. Steelhead pays a visit to one of the gambling centres belongs to Jie and find most of the young boys are high on drugs. He find this outrageous and unforgiven.

The next day, Lily propose to Steelhead that they should leave Japan for Brazil but he feel that he can’t neglect his brotherhood here and live in fear again. He caught up with Inspector Kitano telling him that he was the one who murdered both yakuza leaders for Eguchi to rise into power and he wants to turn himself in. His statement made it clear that Lily slaps him and walk away. Steelhead also made a decision to help Inspector Kitano to solve the case.

Inspector Kitano (Naoto Takenaka)

That night, Steelhead brought Inspector Kitano along for dinner. Not knowing also present in the restaurant was Toshinari Eguchi. Steelhead’s friends feel that he has betrayed his friends. Jie admitted that he is involved with illegal drug activities because of the past yakuza and Taiwanese gangster incident and that was not his fault. Steelhead wants his friends to stop getting involved with illegal activities. But none of them wants to turn Eguchi in.

Lao Gwei tries to resolve the commotion only to be slit by Hong Kong boy, who admitted that the whole new idea was him alone and persuading others to join him to further expand the market to be richer.

Downstairs, Taiwanese gangster Gao and the rest of Togawa-Nakajima alliance threw stones into the room. Hong Kong boy was knocked dead by the rock. Soon everything become more violently ill with stabs and slashes. Jie turns into a coward and having sorts of phobia when he saw Gao hacking at the main door.  Togawa-Nakajima attacks the restaurant in traditional bushido attacks.

Eguchi died in the process of trying to escape via the window when he was shot in the chest by Nakajima. He passes his pendrive which contains the crimes of he and the rest of yakuzas involvement to Steelhead. Only, Steelhead, Jie and Inspector Kitano survived the massive attack.

Steelhead returns to his former home and he found Jie lying in pale as he moved him, Jie’s intestine gushes out. Steelhead cries in agony because he has no friends left. So he called Yuko to escape as he will meet her at Okubo station but the Togawa has already reached there and held both Yuko and Ayako as captives. Steelhead also informs Inspector Kitano that he is at Okubo station.

Upon seeing the yakuzas, Steelhead fled the scene as fast as he could only to receive more injuries as they threw their katana at him from behind. The police arrives in time but Steelhead was shot by Nakajima before Inspector Kitano can get a clear shot at Nakajima’s forehead.

Everyone were arrested but blood trails of Steelhead led Inspector Kitano to an underground sewer. Steelhead was hanging by the stream as Inspector Kitano tried to save him. Instead, Steelhead gave him the pendrive and releases his hand from the inspector bidding farewell and that the bidding was even.

Reviewer’s Note:
An excellent film of survival in a foreign land. This is as realistic as anyone who crosses the border of a new place. Jackie Chan not only did not do his regular gimmicks, he didn’t even have his kungfu acts to defend or fight against the yakuzas.

Again, I think he portrayed a realistic character. Involves brotherhood and trust. However this is not exactly a triad film though they involves many different parties.

It’s like how to survive in a foreign land with nothing and at what cost will you sacrifice to obtain a better living.

Excellent film that you need to watch.

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