Jackie Chan has always been fairly meticulous about his films, making sure that they stay within the bounds of what could be considered family entertainment, keeping the action, humor and love story elements of his film to a certain level so that all his fans can enjoy his movies.
So when the director of Jackie Chan’s latest Hong Kong action flick, Shinjuku Incident, states that he will not release the film in China because he refuses to cut its level of violence, there is definitely reason to sit up and take notice.
In a story in USAToday, director Derek Yee stated that he contemplated making some cuts to the movie, but ultimately decided that doing so would hurt the film’s integrity. Yee said, “We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete.” The report goes on to state that the film contains scenes “that show characters getting a hand chopped off and pierced with knives.”
Yee also stated that Chan, who is also an investor in the $25 million film, concurred with his decision.
For those who don’t follow the Asian film scene, China’s film censors are notoriously strict. As the country has no rating system, every film must be tame enough for audiences of all ages. Gratuitous violence, any nudity or even virtually any mention of sex is right out. Of course, they also happen to snip out any hint of cultural or political overtones that may be embarrassing or critical of the Chinese government. (Chinese censors “protected” audiences from seeing Memoirs Of A Geisha and being offended by the sight of the Chinese Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li playing Japanese characters.)
Even more attention grabbing is the fact that in the film Chan plays a refuge from China who heads to Japan and becomes hit man for the mob. Keeping his younger fans in mind, Chan has always tried to play good guys, turning down roles that cast him as a villain or a bad example. I suppose that that inclination may be a hint of the arc his character goes through over the course of the film. On the other hand, this would not be the first time in recent years that Chan has tried to step a bit outside of his usual screen image to try a role a little darker. His alcoholic police detective in 2004’s New Police Story was a marked difference from the character he played in the original Police Story series in the 1990s.
Shinjuku Incident hits screens in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on April 2 and Japan on May 1. As of yet, the film has no US distributor, but with an Asian DVD release set for June, those with an All-Region DVD player won’t have to wait long to see the film. In the meantime, here’s the film’s trailer, complete with fan translated subtitles.