Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fantasia 2014 Film Review- The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji

Director Takashi Miike has made over 80 films. He is showing no signs of slowing down and has many more first rate productions to come if The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji is an example. The film moves at a hectic pace, soundtrack blasting, edits galore in this action packed  comedic crime story romp.

Reiki Kikukawa (Toma Ikuta) is the worst police officer on the entire police force.  He was last in his class at the Academy, showed questionable morals on the job then when he finally made a bust it was of a leading politician that demanded his badge.

Reiji is fired publicly then re hired quietly for the mission of infiltrating the Sukiya-kai faction of the yakuza who are flooding the city with drugs that often end up in the hands of children.

The film has many different plots and subplots among them a tight relationship between Reiji and Masaya Hiura (Shinichi Tstsumi) a clan member with a deep love of butterflies, a burgeoning romance with fellow police officer Junna ( Riisa Naka) who provides a gift that proves valuable in a key moment of the film. Plus the psychotic Nekozawa (Takashi Okamura) leader of a rival yakuza unit looking to muscle in Sukiya-kai's drug trade.

Many of the comedic moments are physical in nature starting with a series of trials for Reiji from  being tied to the hood of a speeding car as the opening credits role to rolling through a scorching car wash without clothes while the cleaning bristles rotate at full force, a full on drag down fight with Masaya Hiura that Reiji looses badly but cements their friendship and on to the yakuza initiation ceremony where Reiji consumes s ceremonial ceramic dish.

The story is extremely complicated and features multiple characters that drift in and out of prominent  positions in the piece. Its quite difficult to keep everyone roles and inter relationships straight. The film could have used a bit more editing to achieve a lean ninety minute feature instead if it's 130 minute run time.

Toma Ikuta does well with the lead role. His acting is over the top, he tends to shout and scream but he is intimately clueless enough that the audience builds a rooting interest for his character Reiji.  Mitsuru Fukikoshi as the police chief Toshio Sakami is a great foil, he abuses Reiji, fires him, is a key contributor to the mole song chorus, then builds him back up to send undercover. Takashi Okamura is also very strong as the manic relentless, single minded rival Yakuza clan leader Nekozawa.

The Mole Song; Undercover Agent Reiji is a thrilling, comedic comic book farce although its on the log side the twist and turns, non stop action  plus the pounding soundtrack will keep the audience attention. It's a film that I can recommend and should put the viewer on alert for the next Takashi Miike production.

*** 1/2 out of 4

The Mole Song; Undercover Agent Reiji | Takashi Miike | Japan | 2014 | 130 Minutes.

Tags: Yakuza, Crime, Undercover, Japan, Rivals,

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