Saturday, February 7, 2009


Who would have thought that French actor Jean Reno would be appearing in a comedy while playing a serious character? Without being much of a serious film, this very "Hollywooded" film is nothing more than at least a one-hour ride for an entertainment. Without being too original, this movie should please to people who likes to see humour and action combined together.

While on a mission, Hubert (Jean Reno), a tough French cop, inadvertently hits the son of a prefect because Hubert mistook the latter for a criminal. Obviously, Hubert's boss proposes him to take some vacations, which will bring him to Japan. As strange as it might look, Hubert discovers that he must go there in order to go to his "former" Japanese wife's funeral and that he has a daughter called Yumi (which he didn't even know of the existence, in the first place). Because he was mentioned in his wife's will as Yumi's (Ryoko Hirosue) legal guardian, Hubert must keep an eye on her for two days, before she becomes an adult, but he soon discovers that his daughter is being pursued by mysterious killers.

Despite having director Gérard Krawczyk's (Taxi) name attached to it, Wasabi’s simple storyline is hopefully not as thin as it looks. Even though the characters are inserted in an action comedy, the storyline that dictates their motivation and behaviour doesn’t necessarily use the script to pile up all kind of ridiculous situations for humour's sake. After all, there are certainly some flaws in Wasabi’s storyline such as the use of clichés, but it's nice to see that the film doesn't take itself too seriously.

With that said, the use of these clichés can sometimes be seen as cheap shots from the script writers to move (very quickly!) towards its very predictable - albeit enthralling - finale. For example, the action movie hero (in this case Jean Reno) quickly discovers that, while he’s in a public place, he’s being surrounded by bad guys, just because… they wear black suits and shades. Seriously, the villains look much clumsier than secret agents and I’m sure that some members of criminal organization would dare to walk in shopping mall with such an accoutrement.

Finally, thank God this movie never represented France in any serious international film festival! While the performance of the cast is okay, many people - who understand French, naturally - would still appreciate this movie mostly thanks to its simple dialogues (including the little humour that comes with it). Again, forget the lack of realism in this film and you'll enjoy it!

Rating: 3/5

France/Japan (2001)
Length: 94 minutes
Genre: Action comedy
Directed by: Gérard Krawczyk
Screenwriter: Luc Besson
Producer: Luc Besson
Starring: Jean Reno, Ryoko Hirosue, Michel Muller, Carole Bouquet, Yoshi Oida and Kinshiro Oyama

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