By Derek YEE


Action/Adventure - Completed 2009

Illegal immigrant Steelhead is forced to commit crimes against his conscience in order to survive in the brutal Japanese underworld.

    • Year of production
    • 2009
    • Genres
    • Action/Adventure, Drama
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 25 - 50 M$
    • Duration
    • 120 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Derek YEE
    • Writer(s)
    • Derek YEE, Tin-Nam CHUN
    • EIDR
    • 10.5240/BC17-1BB4-5388-7221-5ABE-5
    • Producer(s)
    • Willie CHAN, Solon SO
    • Synopsis
    • In the early 1990’s, a tractor mechanic from China nicknamed Steelhead sneaks into Japan in search of his girlfriend Xiu Xiu. He joins his friend Jie and several other illegal immigrants in eking out a meager living doing menial labor, supplementing their incomes with various minor illegal activities. Just as Steelhead gives up hope, his discovers that Xiu Xiu has changed her name and is now married to a Japanese gangster. Steelhead reveals to Jie that he is unable to return to China, and therefore intends to make the most of his life in Japan. Physically strong and armed with a very instinctive sense of justice, Steelhead helps anyone in need. With the accumulated goodwill, he makes life better for himself and his friends. Jie and the others look upon him as their leader.
      Xiu Xiu’s husband Eguchi, a gangster newly coming into power, is among very few people in Japan that has sympathy for foreigners. He has allowed Gaojie, from a Taiwanese gang, to work in certain areas of Shinjuku. Gaojie captures Jie, and, assuming him to be the person rigging the machines in his game parlour, maims and scars him for life. Steelhead comes across Gaojie trying to assassinate Eguchi. He rescues Eguchi and injures Gaojie. Eguchi takes Steelhead to his home and learns of Steelhead’s past with his wife. Eguchi asks Steelhead to kill for him. Steelhead agrees, on condition that Eguchi gets him citizenship papers and lets him take over Gaojie’s turf.
      With his newfound status, Steelhead decides to go straight. He leaves the area to his friends, and starts a little shop for himself in a more remote place.
      His idyllic peace is shattered one day when police officer Kitano appears. Steelhead and Kitano have had an uneasy relationship: Steelhead once saved Kitano’s life, but Kitano’s job is to arrest illegal immigrants. Kitano tells Steelhead that his friends, now led by Jie, are engaging in serious criminal activities that have led the police to qualify them as a mob. Steelhead begs for time to look into the matter. Kitano, ever loyal to his job, follows Steelhead into Shinjuku.
      Eguchi is asking Jie to kill for him as Steelhead and Kitano arrive. Jie and Eguchi blame all their troubles on Steelhead and they fight. Gaojie, now in league with the rebels in Eguchi’s gang, also arrive at the house to kill Eguchi. As Eguchi lays dying, he gives all of his gang’s information to Steelhead to give to the police.
      Steelhead finds out Xiu Xiu is held hostage by others from Eguchi’s gang. He notifies Kitano, and goes to rescue Xiu Xiu. A full-on battle erupts between the police and the gangsters. Steelhead takes a bullet for Kitano. They hide in an underground sewer, where Steelhead gives the information to Kitano, passes away from his injury, and is washed into the ocean, just one among a large group of illegal immigrants trying to make it in Japan.