Don’t go thinking this is just another Jackie Chan movie. This is nothing like any other Jackie Chan movie.
Apart from the policeman on his bicycle at the start, all other actors are real actors with real, not dubbed, voices in their own languages and dialects. In fact the script points out that Chineses, Japanese and various accents of the two are all quite difficult to follow for Chinese and Japanese alike. It’s a refreshing change to lose the glossy movie sheen that tells us to accept there are no barriers between countries or people unless they’re necessary for the plot.
Jackie is superb. It’s a role that he’s been able to play for a long time – ordinary, rough, mostly quiet but highly realistic and as morally vulnerable as the rest of us. There’s not much violence but when there is it’s not the clean, A-Team style that he’s normally involved with, oh, no. This is bloody violence with definate results on those being injured. No kung fu here and brilliantly ordinary, messy fighting from Jackie too. Don’t get caught up with the fights aspect as it’s not more than in a Western thriller, but in this case it’s always plot driven.
Movie style is one of a thriller come drama and the sets, lighting and direction are all wonderful. A few moments where there appears to be not so much camera shake as a slow rocking from side to side as if on a boat in a harbour. Probably intentional and not too off putting. All the other actors are real characters and look as if they have a lot of pedigree. Difficult to fault the script either and you really get drawn into the under culture of low level living along side gangs in an overcrowded city.
It feels like a film that Hollywood might make but is steeped in Asian culture and especially the ethnic dilemmas of melting pot Japan. It’s its own film and deserves to be treated as such, not with kung fu tinted glasses or some Asian niche feel.
Good movie, well worth the 2.5 hours on the first watch as there are so many things being said through Jackie’s character’s journey. Would I watch it again? Right now, yes, but maybe not a third time. Have to wait and see if I ever do.
Watch if on TV?
Yes but it’s a long film.
Snog, Marry, Avoid?