Stadt der Gewalt (2009)

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Stadt der Gewalt: Directed by Tung-Shing Yee. With Jackie Chan, Naoto Takenaka, Daniel Wu, Jinglei Xu. A simple Chinese immigrant wages a perilous war against one of the most powerful criminal organizations on the planet.

“Contrary to many, at least outside the US, I was introduced to Jackie Chan through Rumble in the Bronx. It was his first big hit in the US, and it ushered in a bunch of other Chan films (i.e. Superop, First Strike) into theaters. It was invigorating to see someone with Chanu0026#39;s skills as a fighter, using martial arts like a dancer and doing it all (sometimes painfully) himself. Then audiences could dig in to one of two things: his previous catalog of work from Hong Kong (i.e. Police Story series, Drunken Master), or films like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon/Knights and his stint in Hollywood. But now heu0026#39;s in his mid-50u0026#39;s, and one wonders if we might see the last of Chan as a real action-oriented star, especially considering forgettable drek like The Spy Next Door is still playing in theaters.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBut there is perhaps some hope, and coming in part from Chan himself (for this film heu0026#39;s exec-producer). In The Shinjuku Incident, we see a step forward for Chan in being simply a dramatic actor, as opposed to doing tons of fights and martial arts. Sure, thereu0026#39;s still a few stunts to pull in the film, but nothing more than hitting someone with a stick or chopping off a hand really u0026quot;happensu0026quot; in terms of the stunts (or, of course, running). Chan is at the service of the story as an actor, and maybe weu0026#39;ll see more of these thrillers or dramas with him as the star; whether they range from greatness to crap is left to be seen. Shinjuku Incident is a nice step in a direction quite removed from The Spy Next Door, and is worth seeing for Chan first, then as a decent Yakuza movie.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe premise has Chan, as a character nicknamed u0026quot;Steelheadu0026quot; for his work early on in the film as a laborer, coming to Japan to work menial jobs and find a girl he knew in his village. But he also needs to become a legal citizen (thereu0026#39;s a lot of illegals coming into Japan, we learn, as itu0026#39;s the 1990u0026#39;s before Chinau0026#39;s economic boom), and soon becomes absorbed into a life of crime. Or rather, he does a couple of jobs- one especially for revenge for a friend whose hand was cut off- and ascends to become head of a triad. The story mechanics are a little complicated at times- you do have to pay attention to who is in charge where or who has a vendetta against someone else (in the last third it becomes clearer and more focused to understand)- and the characters are well laid out.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs far as being quite original, Iu0026#39;m not sure. These sorts of stories and ideas have been dealt with before, and none other than Takashi Miike has made a career in part on doing stories about Yakuzai and/or Triad gangs (his first film was even called Shinjuku Triad Society, and concerns a similar theme present in this film: China vs. Japan gangs). And by the end the drama is a bit forced, and a resolution involving a USB is a little circumspect, just as a contrivance really. But itu0026#39;s competently told and filmed by Tung-Shing Yee, who has a history with crime films, and he can always come back to his star when he needs a strong dramatic lead (not that some of the other actors, like the one playing the amputee with a facial scar who becomes a drug dealer, donu0026#39;t do their best too).u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eI was surprised by how moving Chan could be, if not as memorable as in his Drunken Master days, and itu0026#39;s a good sign of things to come as he goes on in years. Itu0026#39;s a small, exciting movie with no big surprises and some interesting dramatic beats.”


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