I have to start by saying I have never been a fan of Jackie Chan as an action hero. I always found him more clown, than Kung Fu Fighter. I grew up watching Bruce Lee, while he was able to wink at the camera, that certainly was not all there was with him. I also found that his films tended to be well written. So I watched Jackie Chan’s Shinjuku Incident, I believe there would be some Yakuza Content. This movie was ok, Jackie Chan, looked old. His acting overall was thin, he did have moments, where his pulled it off. There were scenes where he was going to go after his rival, where he actually was subtle, as opposed to the over the top overacting I am used to from him. The rest of the movie had moments, I’m not sure what they wanted to do, on one hand I felt as if the movie wanted to be a good police procedural. In the end I believe they went over the top with the violence, so it wound up being an average action film. One area that worked for the film was the theme of the conflict between the Chinese immigrant and Japanese society, while this not new,( see Chinese Connection with Bruce Lee a better picture) it is done well in this.
The area in which this film excels in is its depiction of the Yakuza. The Yakuza, are the bad guys in this picture of course, they do some good intially for Jackies Chinese friends. They show a Yakuza Funeral, which is a huge production in Japan. These funerals are a oppurtunity for gang leaders to come together, and to do some business. They also showed glimpses of the power structure of some gangs. The Kumicho (Godfather), is all-powerful, and that is how he was presented. There also was Yakuza Politics, as Kumicho steps down to have another one named. The ceremony of polling leaders to name Kumicho was done well. Than also leadership style of the Kumicho was also looked at. His final word being the final say. I thought that was a good part of the film. The portrayal of the extortion which business owners have to contend with was good.
The level of discontent among the yakuza members I was intrigued by. I am not sure how accurate that was, because the leaders of the Yakuza Clans, do not typically turn over. All the leaders of the major clans can be tracked. For example the Yamaguchi Gumi have had 6 leaders since the 40’s. That is really different than what the Outfit (chicago mafia) does it. The leader changed sometimes rapidly.
The Jackie Chan character eventually joins a Clan, as a Full Blooded Chinese, I’m not sure it would have happened., to While the Yakuza has members with descent from other countries, not full-blooded. Yakuza is very invested in having their members join and work their way up. I don’t believe Jackie Chan’s character would have joined so quickly. Than the character also came into a position of power, quickly I don’t believe it would have worked that way. The JC character also decides to stop collecting protection from the stores. Now this honest attitude may be good for a fairy tale, but for movie it doesn’t work at all. That was bad, at that point, after rolling my eyes, I lost respect for this film.
Overall, the movie worked in it portrayal of some of the Yakuza power leadership style. It did not work in some other significant areas, the desire to make a not realistic action film won out over having a realistic depiction of a fight by Chinese immigrants trying to fit in and survive in Japan. Jackie Chan is getting old, he may need to further develop his acting chops…