EIFF 2017 – Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio – European Premiere
Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Toma Ikuta, Eita, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Tsubasa Honda, Nanao, Arata Furuta
Run Time: 128mins
While this is the latest Miike effort to make our shores you will be unsurprised to learn that this is not actually his newest film as since this was released in Japan last year he has released another two films and has another one in post. Going to show that his output is just as hyperactive as his usual style of filmmaking.
Takashi Miike’s ‘Mole Song’ a high-octane, hyper-stylised live action manga adaptation.
This is actually a sequel to the 2013’s Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji. It does not matter if you have not seen the original as the events of that film are relayed to us in flashback with frantic narration by Reiji (Toma Ikuta) all while we furiously cut back-and-forth to his current predicament hanging off a cage, near naked, while it is being whisked in the air by a helicopter.
If you think that is ridiculous then you ain’t seen nothing yet as this film jam-packed with ludicrous imagery from folk-dancing Yakuza to gangster’s with OTT blinged-up weaponry to random musical numbers to a man called “The Flying Squirrel” who lives up to that name in a later fight scene. To list all the crazed and baffling scenes in the movie would make this review far too long but suffice to say those who appreciate the madness and hyper-kinetic style of Miike will have plenty to lap up here (That said it cannot match the likes of The Happiness of the Katakuris or Gozu for sheer weirdness). Another technique often employed by Miike is the use of different animation styles randomly inserted into ostensibly live action movie’s which is once again done here to pleasing effect.
While the visual pizzazz, furious pacing and the series of bizarre set-pieces are some of the films main strength’s another one is Ikuta’s performance as the bumbling but surprisingly effective Reiji. Not only does he convince in the martial art sequences but the greatest aspect of his performance is his slapstick reactions to the craziness around him which really are priceless and despite Reiji being somewhat of a pervert these comedy moments manage to keep the character just on the right side of likable.
Talking of perverts like a number of Miike films the portrayal of women is problematic. There is nothing necessarily wrong with having scantily clad women in your movie but there is a leeriness to certain scenes which doesn’t sit comfortably with comical high-jinks of rest of the film.
Of the female characters we are meant to take notice of, the rest are basically used as sexy set-dressing, Yakuza boss daughter Karen (Tsubasa Honda) who starts out bratty and feisty but soon becomes a damsel in distress, Junna (Riisa Naka) is a generic dream girl love interest who is only there to motivate our hero and villain Hu Fen is actually well acted and given personality by actress Nanao but is essentially the sexy assassin lady seen in countless action movies. That said while an issue it does not torpedo the overall fun of the movie.
Another issue is the plot which is on the convoluted side and has the world’s most obvious twist. However, as mentioned earlier, if you are already a fan of the type of insanity Miike brings to the table you will be too busy having a good time to notice the plot too much. Plus it is hard to resist a movie that contains such bizarre one-liners as “You are one swanky caterpillar”.
Verdict: Not one of Miike’s strongest effort by any stretch but still a riotous romp which delivers plenty in the way of style, action, laughs and overall batshit craziness!
Words By Scott Murphy