Director: Gerard Krawczyk
Year:  2001
Rating: 7.0

This was just right for the mood I was in. An action-comedy that surprisingly did not come from Hollywood where it would have fit in nicely, but instead from France, written and produced by Luc Besson doing his best to imitate an American film. I saw this about twenty years ago and recalled enjoying it then - vaguely remembering that it was a lightweight fast moving film in which Jean Reno shoots up a bunch of Yakuza thugs. All in fun of course. And that is still pretty much what I will remember about it twenty years from now. And the red-headed box of distilled caffeine that he has to save.

I have to admit I have a thing for Jean Reno that I don't totally get - that dour hang dog usually unshaven face that almost cracks with effort like moving a pyramid when he smiles or laughs - is just great for the screen. A Gallic Bogart. I prefer him when he plays the good guy but he is also very effective in his villain roles - it is a face that can easily go either way. In Leon the Professional he gets stuck having to protect a young girl and it made him a star in America - here he does the same but with an older girl and I think this film had the impact of a sneeze in the desert. There is even, not coincidentally I expect, a similar scene to that in Leon, which got Besson in some trouble - in which Yumi puts on a fashion show for dad. This formula doesn't always work. But they would make a decent double feature.

Hubert (Reno) is a sad sack cop in Paris - kind of comedic Dirty Harryish who would rather punch a bad guy than have tea with him - but he punches the wrong guy one time - the son of the Police Chief and he is given leave to get his head together. He still pines for the Japanese woman who disappeared on him 19 years ago in Tokyo when he was working for French Intelligence. He gets a phone call that she has died and has left him everything and he flies off to Tokyo. That includes as he finds out their daughter that he didn't know about. This is Yumi (Ryôko Hirosue) who is like a fizzy coke shaken up and quite adorable in a Kawaii kind of way with her red hair, flouncy red dress and platform shoes. Hubert doesn't tell her who he is - just an old colleague of her mother and he has be her guardian till she is legal at 20 years - in two days. Simple enough.

Except that Hubert discovers that dear old mom left them $200 million dollars and was likely murdered. And the Yakuza are after the money. From then on it is basically Hubert beating up and shooting the bad guys. One amusing scene has Yumi running around a department store like a jumping bean buying clothes while unknown to her Hubert is taking out a gang when she isn't looking. Not a classic by any means, not a bit of depth, a script paper thin but I quite enjoyed it. Sometimes all you need is a girl, a gun and Jean Reno.