Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! (1963)
Even though it was fairly fun to watch. Huh. That makes no sense. So what turned me off of it, then?
I guess it's because the movie was such a mixed bag. It couldn't seem to decide what it wanted to be. It ended up being this awkward mix of comedy, action and violence, with a little brutality thrown in for good measure.
Brutality's never on my fun-to-watch list, and even though there wasn't a ton of it here, what there was kept shocking me by coming out of nowhere, and it was always directed at women. Anyway it was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth by the time the thing had finished.
Brutality aside, I've never been one for (strongly) mixing comedy in with the other basic genres. Straight up comedy? I like a good comedy. Horror-comedy or action-comedy? Meh, not so much. That's not a hard-and-fast rule. After all, An American Werewolf in London is one of my favorite films. And come to think of it, I really liked that first Charlie's Angels remake they did back in 2000. But generally speaking, sticking a hyphen and the word "comedy" at the end of action, drama, horror or sci-fi, well....
Anyway, I'd never heard of this particular movie before I watched it (most of my Asian films involve ghosts or cyborgs), but a poke around the web tells me the film's pretty highly esteemed. Most of that esteem seems to be because it was directed by (the esteemed) avant-garde filmmaker Seijun Suzuki.
I'm not that familiar with the guy but from what I gather, he's known for making movies that are visually stunning and light on narrative (in other words they're beautiful, but nonsensical and confusing as hell to watch). In addition to not being a fan of -comedies, I generally am a fan of understanding what I'm watching, so probably this guy's larger body of work isn't for me. (Not that this movie was particularly surreal.) But now that I think, it was mostly the visuals keeping me watching. This thing had some seriously beautiful, well executed shots.
As far as the plot goes, there are other more in-depth reviews out there, but basically there are a couple of rival yakuza clans, and this third "mystery" clan is interfering with their business--killing off their members and stealing their already stolen goods. So this local private dick works with the police to infiltrate the mystery gang and figure out who's behind it all. Not a ton to it, plot-wise, but like I said it's an intense visual ride.
There's a lot out there on the movie's lead actor, Joe Shishido, who apparently worked a lot for Suzuki. But the actor I actually found most interesting was Kotoe Hatsui, who played sidekick Irie. She seemed familiar to me, but IMDB didn't list anything I'd know her from. Anyway, I'd be curious to see some of her other work.
The movie was based on a novel from a fellow named Haruhiko Ôyabu. I couldn't find anything to speak of (in English) on the man himself, but Amazon lists several books by him (I assume it's the same guy). My guess is the book this movie was based on played without the comedy, and I'd probably enjoy it more, just for that reason.
At any rate, I'm going with TWO PSYCHEDELIC BRAINS. It's really a decent film, and technically quite good, just not my cup of tea. Probably it's a two and a half brainer. If I did that kind of thing.