Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wasabi (2001)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’m not sure what turned me on to this movie.  Maybe it was that I was looking through movies starring Jean Reno.  Maybe someone recommended it to me.  Maybe I wanted to know why it was called Wasabi.  (Despite seeing the scene with wasabi, I still want to know why it’s called Wasabi.)

The movie is about Hubert Fiorentini, a French detective played by Jean Reno.  He has a very aggressive method to his work.  His boss doesn’t approve.  Those higher up take notice when Hubert punches the police chief’s son in a night club.  This earns Hubert a two-month ‘vacation’.  When Hubert receives a call from Japan that a former love of his has died, he is persuaded to leave immediately.

He hasn’t seen the woman, Miko, in 19 years when she mysteriously left him.  Now, she’s left him all of her possessions, but no explanation as to what happened nearly two decades ago.  Shortly after the lawyer executes the will, Hubert finds out that he has a daughter named Yumi.

Hubert doesn’t tell Yumi about their relationship at first.  She believes that her mother was raped all those years ago.  She also doesn’t like the police.  One of Miko’s wishes was that Hubert take care of Yumi until she reaches adulthood at 20 years of age.  (This ends up being two days.)  You’d think that this would be uneventful, but it turns out that Miko took a lot of money from the Yakuza and they want it back.

The movie is basically an action comedy.  I say comedy because it takes certain liberties.  The movie opens in a night club where Hubert is punching people.  Each punch sends the person flying.  He takes into custody a transvestite bank robber who tells Hubert where her “sisters” will strike next.  He then goes in and takes them down.  The whole thing serves no purpose other than to show how aggressive Hubert is.  (You’ll notice that bullets send people flying back pretty far, even by movie standards.)

There are also other oddities, such as bank account balances having nice, round numbers.  I don’t know of many statements that round like that.  Hubert also gives his former partner a book that never shows up again.  Usually, when this happens, I’m sure that it means that it’s important.  Maybe it means that the partner is in on whatever’s going on or that we will at least learn something important about it.

Some of the stuff probably would have been explained better if it was more of a drama.  Many of the Japanese people speak French.  Yumi is understandable; it was said that Miko and Hubert worked at the French embassy.  The lawyer is understandable as well.  It would make sense that if Miko was to leave everything to Hubert, she’d find a lawyer that speaks French.  I guess I can understand a lot of the other people that speak French.  I suppose it’s not impossible that someone working at a hotel would pick up a second language.

The big problem I had was that some of the numbers didn’t add up.  Yumi is two days away from her 20th birthday, but Hubert and Miko haven’t seen each other in 19 years.  Hubert is pretty strict about this.  He keeps correcting people that say 15 years or 20 years.  If it’s been 19 years, Yumi would have been born before Miko left Hubert.  Hubert should have had some indication that Miko was pregnant.

Also, I could be totally off on this, but I think Yumi said that she was in high school.  (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong on this.)  I asked my brother who’s working in Japan at various schools and he said that the normal graduation age is 18.  Also, if she’s in school, why isn’t she in class?  Maybe I misread the subtitles or misunderstood something.  Yumi was apparently brought up bilingual, which usually makes for a child that’s more intelligent.

The movie was filmed in French, as you might have picked up.  There were also some lines in Japanese.  All of the French lines were subtitled; I don’t think any of the Japanese was.  I would never consider dub on a live-action movie.  I’ve been watching too many poorly made foreign films to choose dub over sub on a live-action movie.

I’d recommend watching the movie if you’re just looking for a distraction.  This is one of those movies that’s not to be taken seriously.  If you pay too much attention, you’ll find yourself asking too many questions to really enjoy it.  For instance, the scene with the wasabi is funny.  I really wasn’t even paying much attention myself and I found several errors.  (You can find a few more if you go to IMDb.)

No comments :