"Wasabi" movie review
"Wasabi"A film review by Christopher C. Happ ©2005
Somehow, I missed this one when it was released in 2001. I was browsing through Blockbuster when I noticed a DVD case with Jean Reno’s picture. You may remember another splendid film in which Reno starred; The Professional, 1994. In that one he played a softhearted assassin who cares for a twelve year old girl Mathilda ( Natalie Portman), after her family is killed.
Wasabi is just as shoot’em-up but on a much lighter note; a comedic action film, really. Reno plays a tough cop ( Hubert); kind of a French version of Dirty Harry. He punches out three or four people, one a transvestite in the opening scenes and is then reprimanded by his boss for his methods but not his results. Once again he becomes the caretaker of a young girl, Yumi, (Ryoko Hirisue). We later find out that Yumi is his daughter from a lost love of nineteen years ago in Japan.
Reno has a knack for these parts; he so perfectly portrays a fatherly love and affection for these young women. Ryoko is a delight. She plays a bubbly 19- year old that is unaware for most of the film that Hubert is her father. There are some great scenes of Japanese teenagers clubbin’ to techno, in a discothèque.
The film takes place in France and later Japan when Hubert is called there to attend the reading of his ex- lover’s will in which he is the sole legate. Miko is now dead; killed by the mob. Yumi is the daughter that he never knew about. Together they fight to hang on to the $200,000,000 that Miko left to Hubert. In Japan, Hubert links up with an old friend from French intelligence; now there’s an oxymoron! Together they bring the Japanese mob to their knees and rescue Yumi.
Ryoko steals the show with her sweet teenage angst coupled with a great measure of joie de vivre. She bounces around the room constantly smiling and dancing. The shopping scenes are hilarious. The movie is subtitled in English and the soundtrack has an odd mix of English, French and Japanese, all quite intelligible even without the subtitling but it helps to keep the viewer on plot.
If you did catch this one before it might be time for a second viewing and if not, definitely for a first. This is a light-hearted action film that rests on the love between a father and daughter.
Directed by Gérard Krawczyk
Writing creditsLuc Besson