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  Travellers Dimension Police Reality CheckBuy this film here.
Year: 2013
Director: Koichi Sakamoto
Stars: Nao Nagasawa, Ayumi Kinoshita, Yuko Takayama, Kohei Yamamoto, Kenji Ebisawa, Kentaro Shimazu
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Weirdo, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: From a futuristic parallel world sexy, ass-kicking Dimension Police agent Ai (Nao Nagasawa) and her transforming kung fu robot partner Bridge track and eliminate dangerous criminals across other dimensions. Their current target is a crazed serial killer who escapes the 'Original World' to wreak havoc in a realm that resembles Japan's feudal past known as 'Retro World.' In the midst of battling the madman Ai runs into Yui (Ayumi Kinoshita), her former partner and closest friend. Now they are mortal enemies since Yui joined a terrorist organization called 'Doubt.' After a brief tussle Yui urges Ai to find her "true self" then vanishes. When Ai and Bridge bring the captive killer back to Dimension Police headquarters, he unexpectedly explodes. Theorizing that Doubt plan to use certain otherdimensional lookalikes as human bombs, the chief of the Dimension Police - a giant, floating blue holographic head known as the Brain - sends Ai to retrieve a vital clue from Haruka (Yuko Takayama), a perky Goth Lolita-styled psychic girl on Fairy World: a candy-coloured magical realm where everyone dresses like students from Hogwarts. There Ai runs into Yui again, this time accompanied by her brother Ken whom until now was assumed murdered by Doubt. Faced with conflicting information as to what is really going on, Ai is flung down a rabbit hole of alternate realities, otherdimensional doppelgangers and disorienting flashbacks with no idea who to trust.

Japan makes the best low-budget straight-to-video science fiction action-exploitation movies in the world. Anyone that disputes this fact should take a look at Travellers Dimension Police. Whereas in most countries direct-to-video genre movies are synonymous with lowest common denominator junk here director Koichi Sakamoto and screenwriter Sotaro Hayashi cram as many outlandish ideas and cool set-pieces as they can into eighty fun-filled minutes. Impressive production design creates a series of colourful worlds straight out of a sci-fi geek's wet dream: Tron-style light vehicles, a CGI control room that evokes Minority Report staffed by The Fifth Element-style fashion bunnies in gold fetish outfits and platinum blonde wigs, not to mention a cool transformer robot and charming alternate realities Retro World, Fairy World and Lost World: a post-apocalyptic monochromatic nightmare realm where street urchins are hunted by a ruthless commando squad.

Sakamoto's impressive handling of this eccentric B-movie likely landed him his gig on the slightly bigger-budgeted 009-1: The End of the Beginning (2013), a 'sexed-up' adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori's classic sci-fi manga. In a similar vein Travellers Dimension Police is less than subtle in its attempt to titillate teenage boys: pouring the shapely female action stars into skimpy, skintight fetish outfits or short skirts. Sakamoto makes sure to punctuate the action with lingering close-ups of bums, cleavage or perfect pins. After all this is an exploitation movie, among the hundreds that proliferate the Japanese DTV/VOD market each year. If the film's prurient leanings, which include the inevitable kinky S&M torture scene to lure the 'pink film' crowd, are a trifle embarrassing at least they are camp and not mean-spirited. Compensation can be derived from the fact the story is well told with vivid and engaging characters, the actors surprisingly capable and the breakneck martial arts choreography puts many a big-budget Hollywood actioner to shame. Nao Nagasawa is an especially impressive athlete while co-star Ayumi Kinoshita displays notable talent portraying multiple alternate versions of her character with wildly different personalities.

Hayashi's madcap screenplay scatters flashbacks throughout, briskly piecing together an intricate and compelling mystery. Travellers Dimension Police also pulls of the parallel worlds conceit far better and with a great more charm than Shusuke Kaneko managed with his vaguely similar Danger Dolls (2014). Eccentric flourishes add welcome flavour notes to an already offbeat stew. Take for example the subplot involving an evil witch from Fairy World whose chief goal is to become a TV news anchor and who floats around with a flying umbrella a la Mary Poppins! Amidst all the craziness the story delivers a disarmingly sincere level of emotion centred around the fractured relationship between Ai and Yui with a very Japanese layer of angst. Just when the viewer thinks they have everything figured out Travellers Dimension Police pulls another white rabbit out of its hat. It is occasionally silly, gleefully adolescent at times but consistently inventive and tremendous fun.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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