Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:47 pm 
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Beginning of a franchise?

Takashi Miike returns to pesky bumbler Reiji (the comical, irrepressible Tôma Ikuta), inflitrated by the police into a yakuza clan on a suicide mission again as he was in the 2013 hit The Mole Song – Undercover Agent Reiji, five years later in an even more delirious and colorful comedy about much the same thing, only more so. He begins the movie dangling from a helicopter stark naked except for a strip of newspaper blown to fold around his private parts. The movie goes on from one absurdity to another as Reiji is promoted to no. 2, and bodyguard for a yakuza boss with the police mission of wiping out the gang and its Chinese mafia rival Dragon Skulls. Reiji thinks he is going to be ordered to cut off five of his fingers early on, but instead is promoted. And so it goes.

Things get complicated when a new super-clean police chief (Eita) comes in who despises the whole idea of undercover cops because he views them as dirty - which in cases like Reiji they certainly are. Reiji does so well as a police mole because he is seduce by the yakuza life. He is also seduced by a succession of women, including the mafia boss' daughter, Karen (Tsubasa Honda). Noboru Takahashi's manga is the basis. The film features a gloriously garish red and gold look, and a complete lack of logic. This is pop entertainment somewhat on the order of a sleazy comic James Bond movie, or Michel Hazanavicius' French OSS 117 series.

Tôma Ikuta is a star with many fans and may be quite ready to continue, so this looks like a franchise. Given the violence and sexual suggestiveness, not for young kids. See Mark Shelling's detailed and knowledgeable description of this film for The Japan Times, from which I learn that Tôma Ikuta played the lead in a 2011 film version of the Tale of Genji. That shows he can do serious roles and would be something to see.

The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio / 土竜の唄 香港狂騒曲 (Mogura no uta: Hong Kong kyôsô-kyoku) 128 mins.,in Japanese, English, Mandarin, Pidgin Cantonese, debuted at Macao Dec. 2016, showing at Rotterdam and other international festivals in 2017. Reviewed as part of the NYAFF, where it plays Fri., 14 July 2017 at 6 pm at SVA Theater, 333 W 23rd St.

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