Written by Kouhei Tsuka, based on his play
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Starring Mitsuru Hirata, Keiko Matsuzaka, Morio Kazama, Chika Takami, Daijiro Harada
- Interview with Fukasaku biographer Yamane Sadao
- Fukasaku filmography
Released by: Home Vision.
My Advice: Skip it.
[ad#longpost]Ginshiro (Kazama) is a star in Japanese cinema that is falling. He’s a bit desperate, and not just for a sense of fashion. It seems that actress Konatsu (Matsuzaka) is carrying his child, and that can’t be good for his career. Or his libido. Or his ego. He basically goes to his entourage member/lackey/punching bag Yasu (Hirata) and begs/bullies the poor guy into accepting Konatsu as his bride. Because Yasu is just a bit player, though, it’s kind of hard to make ends meet with a baby on the way, so Yasu becomes a stunt man as well, taking more and more dangerous stunts on in order to bring home the bacon.
I’d like to take a moment out to flash my “white American guy” badge, which is something I do as a kind of disclaimer to cover myself in case there’s something here culturally that I’m missing, and that’s why I didn’t enjoy what I’m about to tear into.
And maybe it’s my fault for believing the front cover, which describes this as a “comedy.” But it falls into the category of comedies that just aren’t funny and are so unfunny, it’s almost perplexing. When our hero, Yasu, is having Konatsu thrust upon him to marry by Ginshiro, and Ginshiro has a somewhat change of heart and decides to throw the poor woman down, tear her clothes off and do her on Yasu’s floor while he watches…I was asking myself, “This is funny?”
Not helping things is the fact that of the three leads, none of them are sympathetic characters. Ginshiro is obviously a dick–no, not just a dick, a several stories tall dick. Konatsu is wishy washy and Yasu is just a stooge, and both of them care for Ginshiro despite him being a dick of skyscraper proportions. Granted, there’s lot of precedence for people loving their abusers despite the abuse–but again, I believed the cover when it said this was a comedy. And the slapstick of Yasu constantly kicking his own ass to try and get ahead just isn’t enough to overpower the bad taste the really grim bits of this movie and get me laughing.
If there was some kind of cultural gap that needed to be bridged in order to explain why this is a comedy, then the special features don’t do anything to provide that sort of context. The interview with Fukasaku’s biographer does a good job in explaining why somebody like Fukasaku would want to take this project on–his penchant for focusing his films on the “little guys” on the totem pole. Thus, a bit player/stunt guy in Japanese cinema is right up his alley. So in that respect, the one real feature is worth watching. Although it doesn’t go far enough. Maybe this is Fukasaku’s idea of what comedy is, but I’m just left scratching my head.
I welcome anybody who can send me an explanation as to why this is funny–preferrably with only a reasonable amount of expletives or name-calling. Until then, though, I’d say stay away unless you’re a Fukasaku completist.