English Title: Violence Action
Japanese Title: バイオレンスアクション
Director(s): Ruto Toichiro
Screenwriter(s): Era Itaru
Studio: Fine Entertainment & Sony Pictures
Runtime: 1h 51m
Starring: Hashimoto Kanna, Sugino Yosuke, Suzuka Ouji, Baba Fumika, Shirota Yu, Takahashi Katsunori, Daito Shunsuke, Sato Jiro
My Verdict: Tries to be the “cute young woman assassin taking on the yakuza” action-comedy. Tries too hard to look cool. And fails. Messy plotting.
● Based on the manga written by Sawada Shin and illustrated by Asai Renji, the film follows Kei (Hashimoto Kanna), a bookkeeping student who works as a hitwoman. She is hired by an element of a yakuza clan as part of their internal feud. Soon enough, she is dragged into their war.
● Please note that I have not read the manga so the review is purely of the film.
● Kei being dragged into the internal yakuza war generally makes enough sense. Specifically, she gets attached to Terano (Sugino Yosuke), who is the yakuza’s own bookkeeper, whilst fighting the others.
● There are arguably two adversaries for Kei in terms of drama that directly relates to her: Michitaka (Shirota Yu), yakuza’s own hitman, the “invincible giant” trope; and Kinoshita (Takahashi Katsunori), one of the two higher bosses in the clan. Kinoshita wanting to take out his rival is understandable but everyone wanting to take out everyone is somewhat a leap without the necessary triggering events.
● The final act (or what is presumably supposed to be the final act) in which everyone tries to kill everyone drags on for too long given that it lacks the necessary set pieces.
● The action is, as expected, heavily stylized but not in a good way. The choreography is not well-executed (pun not intended). Worse than that is the cinematography during these action sequences. There are momentary slow-motion shots breaking up the rapid cuts which tries too hard to be frenetic. Included amongst all that are repeat cuts that are just tacky. In other words, it tries too hard to be cool.
● Outside of the action sequences, it’s nicely shot and edited. The palette and lighting are nicely done.
● As expected, there is some humor, mostly around Kei and her colleagues who are a little odd. For example, there is Tencho (Baba Fumika), the ill-tempered manager who makes horrible ramen; Zura (Okamura Takashi), the driver who loves his wig; and Watanabe (Suzuka Ouji), Kei’s bookkeeping classmate who obviously has a crush on her. These characters and the humor would work better if they are more integrated into the plot. But since they are under-utilized, the humor comes across as a bit forced at times.
● In addition, there is fellow hitwoman Dahlia (Ota Yuuri) who is a sniper. Setting aside that she can’t keep her rifle hidden, her backstory of a traumatic past is supposed to be significant but is merely shown in brief.
● The performances are mostly good enough. The overacting is presumably deliberate given the tone the film is aiming for. Shirota Yu as Michitaka really overdoes it, presumably due to his stage musical background. Like the others, his approach is simple because that’s just the way the characters are written. It’s not a bad thing, it is fitting to the genre.
● Ultimately, for me, it’s not the acting that is jarring. For some, it may be. Even the visual style for the action, although off-putting in itself, is still tolerable (because it’s not always like that). Also, Sony advertising can be subtler but that is a minor issue. The main problem is that the plot is bashed together like the action sequences—the elements are there, so at least one knows what the filmmakers are trying to convey, but it’s too messy.
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