Shoot My Darlin'

Director: Hitoshi Ozawa
Year: 1997
Production Company: Shochiku
Running Time: 86 minutes

As a small bonus for Hong Kong film fans, this low budget gunplay actioner from Japan co-stars the lovely Lolitaesque Vivian Hsu. With her pouty faced innocence she has made herself into a pan-Asian idol from the mid-90’s to today. Born in 1975, this Taiwanese cutie pie first attempted to make it in her home country as a singer while still a teenager in a group called ShaoNuDui but when that didn’t click she switched to modeling and acting in Hong Kong where she found some success – perhaps more as a model than as an actress. What an odd schizophrenic film career she has had – on one hand she has appeared in a few quasi-children films like “Shaolin Popeye” and “Adventurous Treasure Island”, a few solid mainstream films such as “Your Place or Mine” and Jackie Chan’s “Accidental Spy” but also spread out to make a couple films with heat inducing nude scenes as in “Angel Heart” and “Devil Angel”.

Vivian also produced a few photo books that displayed her natural charms. Her combination of adolescent innocence and sexuality made her a natural for the Japanese market and beginning in 1996 with the release of a musical album sung in Japanese she has become quite popular over there. She was also one of the mainstays on a Japanese TV comedy show starring Kiyoya Nanami and his troupe UriNari in which she sang with her group Black Biscuits. She also took Korean lessons and put out a Korean album – I anxiously await her Mongolian breakthrough!
She doesn’t get to exercise her acting chops much in this film but does get the opportunity to speak in both Chinese and Japanese. She plays Reika, a Chinese Filipino, who makes the mistake of absconding with a suitcase of cocaine and has much of the Philippine’s underworld after her (I guess the Japanese also go to the Philippines to shoot low-budget action films). Joker (Hitoshi Ozawa – also the director, writer and producer of the film) is a tough silent professional killer (do they come any other way) who is hired to find her and deliver her to a specific location. Finding her is easy, but she is being held prisoner by a couple thugs who are soon a couple ex-thugs with bullets in their head to keep them company. Joker grabs her and drags her into a passing taxi and they are on their way with another gang soon on their heels.
In the ensuing 90-minutes there are the expected double-crosses, macho posing, bad bad guy acting and enough shootouts to keep some gun crazy fans all warm and fuzzy. The last third of the film is almost all dedicated to shooting at one another – lots of the bad guys go down but our heroes (now including the taxi driver (Masahiro Yamashita) who wants to get his hands on the drugs as well) manage to stay on their feet for most of the film – gunshot wounds be damned. It isn’t a particularly smart film – one would have to guess the country was as small as a postage stamp the way everyone is able to know exactly where everyone else is – if only US intel was half as good as this. It also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense once you understand what is going on. And just why the bad guys head into a dead end cave at one point is a mystery I will never quite get – other than perhaps Hitoshi as the director thought it would be fun to have a shootout in a cave. It’s not a bad time passer I suppose with its large amount of B film action but Vivian stays sadly covered up and doesn’t even get to shoot anybody and with a title that reads "Shoot My Darlin" one might rightly expect her to take down a few baddies..

My rating for this film: 5.5