Accidental Kidnapper 誘拐ラプソディー
Contemporary crime comedy
2009, colour, 1.85:1, 109 mins
Directed by Sakaki Hideo (榊英雄)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 08 July 2010, 10:28 AM (HKT)
Engaging light comedy about a loser who finds he's kidnapped a yakuza's young son is all in the performances. Asian-centred events and niche TV.
Southern Japan, the present day, during the cherry-blossom season. All-round loser Date Hideyoshi (Takahashi Katsunori) is unmarried, jobless and with a criminal record and debts of ¥3.2 million at the age of 38. After fumbling some suicide attempts, he meets a six-year-old boy, Shinomiya Densuke (Hayashi Roi), who's run away from home and the strictures of his father (Aikawa Sho), whom he describes as a "company president". Remembering some advice from an old con he met in prison (Sasano Takashi) - that the fastest way to make big money is to kidnap a rich family's child - Date does just that, demanding ¥50 million in cash. The boy is more than happy to go on an adventure with Date and not return home. But then Date realises the boy's father is actually a yakuza boss - and has sent his whole gang and associates, led by Sakurada (Sugata Shun) and the scheming Endo (Sakaki Hideo), to track him down. Observing from the sidelines are two cops (Eiichiro Funakoshi, Yamamoto Hiroshi) who hope to get a promotion out of cracking the case.
Actor SAKAKI Hideo 榊英雄 is best known for a string of genre pictures during the past decade, notably in films by KITAMURA Ryuhei 北村龍平: he played the villain in Versus ＶＥＲＳＵＳ (2000), the hero in Alive ＡＬＩＶＥ (2002), as well as a leading role in the Kitamura-produced Battlefield Baseball 地獄甲子園 (2003). But there's little genre exaggeration in his third feature as a director, Accidental Kidnapper 誘拐ラプソディー (2009), which, in a charming, much more low-key way, blends the warmth of his second movie (family drama My Grandma ぼくのおばあちゃん (2008)) with the comedy of his first (high-school/yakuza comedy (2007)). Adapted from a 2004 novel by OGIWARA Hiroshi 荻原浩 (whose previous novel was adapted into hit movie Memories of Tomorrow 明日の記憶 (2006)), the plot recalls Clint Eastwood's A Perfect World (1993), but in tone it plays more like a simpler-shot version of KITANO Takeshi 北野武's Kikujiro 菊次郎の夏 (1999), without any heart-searching.
As the pair who take to the road pursued by the entire local yakuza, TAKAHASHI Katsunori 高橋克典 is immensely likable as the thirtysomething loser without overdoing his hopeless side, and young HAYASHI Roi 林遼威 a lively screen partner who has a mind of his own but isn't brattish. But it's the way the film juggles its two sides — the pair on the run, the yakuza stumbling along behind — that makes it so entertaining: the mobsters are almost as amateurish as the kidnapper, but again Sakaki doesn't let the comedy degenerate into gangsterly slapstick. (The menacing AIKAWA Sho 哀川翔, as the father, and beefy SUGATA Shun 菅田俊, as his main muscle, basically play their roles straight.) And the device of having a pair of cops following the action for their own ends acts as a further brace on the comedy getting out of hand.
Though originally intending not to perform in the film, Sakaki took over the role of yakuza Endo when the original actor, OSHIO Manabu 押尾学, was arrested on drugs charges in August 2009. After postponing the original December opening and reassembling the necessary cast, he reportedly refilmed all 58 shots in which Oshio had appeared in the space of one day.
ContactSales: Kadokawa Pictures (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: Japan, 3 Apr 2010.
Presented by Kadokawa Pictures (JP), NTT DoCoMo (JP). Produced by YStudio 3 (JP), in association with ATOO (JP). Executive Producer: Inoue Taiichi. Producers: Sugisaki Takayuki, Umehara Haruo, Asami Kazufumi.
Script: Kurosawa Hisako. Novel: Ogiwara Hiroshi (2004). Photography: Fujii Masayuki. Editing: Seino Hideki. Music: Sakaki Izumi. Art direction: Inoue Shimpei. Sound: Iwamaru Hisashi.
Cast: Takahashi Katsunori (Date Hideyoshi), Aikawa Sho (Shinomiya Tomohiko), Hayashi Roi (Shinomiya Densuke), Eiichiro Funakoshi (Kurosaki, the cop), Yamamoto Hiroshi (Kuribayashi, Kurosaki's assistant), Sugata Shun (Sakurada), Sakaki Hideo (Kishida), Kinoshita Houka (Endo, older yakuza), Sasano Takashi (Shige-san, old prisoner), You (Shinomiya's wife), Shinagawa Toru (old photographer), Terajima Susumu (sushi chef), Tsunogae Kazue, Bengal, Miho Jun, Hyuga Jo, Watarai Toshiyuki.