Jackie Chan, the comical kung fu king, is starring in a new movie so violent that its director decided not to release it in mainland China, which doesn’t have a film ratings system.
Hong Kong director Derek Yee told The Associated Press on Monday that he considered toning down the violence in “Shinjuku Incident” so it could pass censorship in China, but decided not to because he thought it would hurt the integrity of the movie.
Yee said the $25-million, Chinese-language movie, in which Chan plays a refugee who escapes to Japan and becomes a killer for the mob, has scenes that show characters getting a hand chopped off and pierced with knives.
“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,” he said.
Yee said Chan, who invested in the movie, agreed with his decision.
Solon So, chief executive of Chan’s company, JC Group, confirmed Yee’s account.
China doesn’t have a ratings system, so every movie is released for all audiences. Chinese censors are also wary of subject matter that is politically sensitive, like Tibet or the military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Yee said he wasn’t worried about the film’s setting of Japan – another sensitive topic in China.
“For us, the problem was just the violence,” he said.
Sino-Japanese relations remain tense because of Japan’s brutal occupation of China during the Second World War. The 2005 Hollywood film “Memoirs of a Geisha” was not released on the mainland apparently because the sight of Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li portraying Japanese Geishas would offend viewers.
Yee’s decision also had financial implications because the film is expensive by Asian standards and China is an increasingly important market, where a hit movie can make millions.
“Shinjuku Incident” will be released in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on April 2 and in Japan on May 1.