Tuesday, February 2, 2010

US release of Shinjuku Incident

Take a look at these posters for the US release of Shinjuku Incident:

"Courtesy of Barking Cow Distribution. All rights reserved."

Now did they watch the same movie I watched? HOW did they make this movie about a 'battle for Tokyo's underground'? Why change the entire focus of the movie in this way? Who has these 'bright' ideas? Are 'violent' movies about 'gangsters' the only 'acceptable' films? Because these posters seem to be emphasizing a violence that isn't really present in the film. Yes it has violence but not in the way it is being presented in these posters. I can't help feeling there is such a huge amount of - if not exactly prejudice - but certainly preconceptions in making this movie about "they destroyed his life - now he will destroy their's". It's like the worst kind of prejudice - this is the ONLY image of Tokyo/Triads/Yakuza that is acceptable to American audiences. What worries me the most is if they are right.

This movie is NOT about Jackie's character going out on some war against the Yakuza or trying to take control of the Tokyo underground nor can any such interpretation be forced onto the film.

It is about a man who is caught between a rock and hard place in his attempts to survive in an alien and hostile environment. It is about hard moral choices and how trying to do what you need to do in order to survive is not always RIGHT. There is a clear moral message in this film that doing 'whatever it takes' is not right when it involves doing something illegal. That whatever the intentions (Jackie's character is motivated by the highest intentions for his friends and for himself) doing the wrong thing doesn't make it right just because the intentions were good.

It is a story about love, about loyalty and to whom do you owe loyalty? What happens when loyalties conflict? It is a film about survival, about morality, about right and wrong. It is a film about choices and the consequences of choices - right and wrong.

There is a sub-text about prejudice as both sides (Chinese and Japanese) display a lack of understanding and prejudice against each other.

Ultimately it is a movie that shows the grass is not always greener on the other side. A message that both Jackie and Derek Yee have expressed many times in interviews about the movie when it released in Asia.

There is a link to download the English Trailer HERE (20.3 MB swf format) or HERE (8.3 MB mpeg-4 format) Just right click on the links and 'save as' "Courtesy of Barking Cow Distribution. All rights reserved."

However - it still remains true that if we want more of Jackie's Asian films to be given a general release it is important to support them when they are. Go see it. No matter what they have cut out or changed in the dubbing - it's a great movie!

Post Script:

I think this summary illustrates my point in the comment below extremely well:
Nick, an honest and hardworking tractor repairman from northern China, takes the perilous journey to Tokyo after losing contact with his girlfriend, Xiu Xiu, who months earlier had left China for Japan with hopes of a better life. Trying to exist in the underbelly of Tokyo long enough to find Xiu Xiu, Nick searches for a decent living and unwittingly finds himself pitted against the Japanese yakuza. Ironically, he also discovers that Xiu Xiu has adopted a Japanese identity and has married Eguchi, an ambitious up-and-coming yakuza chief. Nick feels responsible for this turn of events and feels obligated to bring Eguchi down. He must do what is right, even though he knows that he will also be destroying whatever happiness Xiu Xiu has been able to find in this new city. It’s not a question of right or wrong with shades of gray; the question is black and white. Can one simple Chinese migrant take on the yakuza alone? (Barking Cow Distribution)

I know it sounds like I am being very critical - but the problem is that in attempting to make the movie more palatable for Western audiences and therefore more marketable which should translate into more money - what they are actually doing is going to result in the opposite. Which is bad for every one! What I am saying is market the movie AS IT IS! Don't change it. Then the audience who can appreciate it will go see it. The whole perception of how awful dubbed and cut movies are will change and the whole situation becomes win - win as more people will go see these movies, more money will be made by all and we will see more movies being given a general release. Do it RIGHT and we all win! Do it wrong and no one wins.

As an extremely good example of how a good movie can end up really bad when this happens to it is 'The Medallion'. From interviews I have read/watched with various people involved in the making of 'The Medallion' the original story was very different from what ended up on-screen BUT the American producers felt that American audiences wouldn't understand/appreciate that movie so 2 months after filming was completed the film was re-edited and few extra scenes filmed to 'fit' the new story and you have a good movie gone bad in one easy step! There are so many story elements in 'The Medallion' that just don't make any sense whatsoever, not to mention what appear to be continuity bloopers but in fact are consistent with the original film but the preceding scene was cut.

'The Medallion' is an extreme example of this but .... my message is ... DON'T DO IT! LEAVE the movie as is! Dub the movie as it was originally written. Don't cut it to try fit a new sensibility. Don't try to change the meaning, message or story to fit a new audience. It just makes a mess regardless of how it is done. And in the end it doesn't produce the desired result.


Anonymous said...

Just thinking about this a bit more - the problem with promoting this film like this is that it is then targeting the wrong audience. The kind of person who would go to a film about 'the battle for Tokyo's underground' is going to be disappointed by the film. The person who would enjoy the deeper more thinking aspects of the film will be put off by the posters. As a result the movie gets a poor box-office and lukewarm reviews and it makes it harder to get a wider release for the next one.

Crystal said...

I am glad you seem to be able to articulate what I feel.I feel exactly how you do. Where do you come from if you don't mind me asking. America?

Anonymous said...

I am glad you agree. No I don't mind you asking but no I am not going to answer LOL but it's not America. :-)

Anonymous said...

And IF any distributers read this here's a heads up - given the HUGE number of fans of HK movies around the world - people CAN watch 5 minute fight scenes without suffering from terminal boredom. Not everyone has an attention deficit when it comes to fight scenes so DO NOT CUT THEM!!!

Let me say again - DO NOT CUT THE FIGHT SCENES!!!

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