Director: Gerard Krawczyk
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.