Shinjuku Incident Derek Yee

Shinjuku Incident Derek Yee
"It's so difficult being an action star today," says Jackie Chan in an interview on the Shinjuku Incident DVD. "Before, action stars just fight. You look at me fight [for] ten minutes… fight, fight, fight, fight. But today, action stars have to do comedy, you have to do drama, you have to do your own fighting, own stunts. There's so many things." One hates to keep harping on the fact that Chan isn't a young man anymore, but it can't be coincidental that what he perceives as a crisis in action star brand management should come at a time when his advancing age threatens to make him irrelevant. What's a 56-year-old former daredevil movie star to do? This year's The Spy Next Door glumly suggested becoming a neutered, ethnic stereotype, but Hong Kong production Shinjuku Incident represents a more intriguing possibility: straight-faced dramatic actor. Directed by reliable Hong Kong journeyman Derek Yee, Shinjuku Incident stars Chan as a Chinese illegal immigrant in Japan who becomes a reluctant assassin for the yakuza when he learns his former girlfriend is now a mob boss's wife. Shinjuku Incident is best in its first half, where it's convincing and atmospheric in its depiction of illegal immigrant life: cramped living conditions, seedy neighbourhoods and horrible jobs. These early scenes fit awkwardly with the more routine thriller elements that dominate the second half, and Derek Yee's stylish colour scheme is counterintuitive to the gritty subject matter. The film never catches fire, but is still entertaining, with one surprising disappointment: Chan's one-note performance. A capable dramatic actor in films like Crime Story and New Police Story, Chan relies on the same solemn, pouty-faced expression for practically the entire running time here and, let's face it, he looks 20 years too old to be hanging out with Daniel Wu and romancing Xu Jinglei, black hair dye notwithstanding. "I want to show the audience that I'm an actor who can fight, not the action star," says Chan. "I want to be like Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood ― into his 80s, still can act, still can direct." Before he does that, Chan needs to make a film that acknowledges he is in his 50s. DVD extras include a scene-specific commentary by Chan, as well as optional English dubbing. Stick with the subtitles. (Sony)