Watched ‘Shinjuku Incident’ over the weekend and was impressed by the layers of meaning within this movie amidst the grittiness of the whole story. A tale told in 1990s Japan of the wave of illegal immigrants from China, the plot and pacing are edgy but surprisingly moving at the same time. ‘Shinjuku Incident’ reminds of ‘Protege’ (another crime-underworld-gang-type movie also directed by Derek Yee) in that both films explore the ambivalent responses of individuals caught in the crosshairs of unsavoury, and often uncontrollable, social and personal circumstances. As I watched ‘Shinjuku Incident’ a key question kept racing in my mind: how much of what we proclaim that we do for altruistic ends is in reality merely means to fulfill our own agendas? Or to satisfy our emotional need to be seen as being ‘nice’ or playing the role of the ‘hero’? But what to me marks the central tragedy in the movie is the trajectory of the life of Daniel Wu’s character, which was played to such powerful effect by the last scene in the movie. Seeing his character, I have an uneasy thought: that even if we opt from the very beginning to lead a straight life, can situations arise in our lives that push us to take shortcuts or other paths? Is it really true, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, that “events are in the saddle and they ride mankind”? Or are we “masters of our fate; captains of our own souls” as so emphatically pronounced in William Earnest Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’?