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  Wasabi Land Of The Rising Daughter
Year: 2001
Director: Gérard Krawczyk
Stars: Jean Reno, Ryôko Hirosue, Michel Muller, Carole Bouquet, Yoshi Oida, Christian Sinniger, Alexandre Brik, Jean-Marc Montalto, Véronique Balme, Fabio Zenoni, Haruhiko Hirata, Michel Scourneau, Jacques Bondoux
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Hubert Fiorentini (Jean Reno) is a tough-minded cop in Paris who doesn't operate by the rules when a well-aimed punch will get him what he wants. In a nightclub, he apprehends a member of a transvestite gang who are staging bank robberies across the city and transports him, bloody and bruised, back to the station. However, Hubert's boss calls him into his office for a quiet word; it seems there was a problem because the robber wasn't the only person Hubert beat up, and one of his victims was the son of the police chief. The detective has thrown himself into his work since being unlucky in love while in the service of the French embassy in Japan nineteen years ago, so perhaps, his boss suggests, he should have a break...

Apparently the producer and writer of this film, the very busy Luc Besson, is particularly popular in Japan, so this culture clash comedy-thriller was the logical result of an attempt to appeal to both France and that country. Being written by Besson, you'd expect a host of bordering-on-the-absurd action sequences, but you don't really get them; although one punch from Hubert will send you flying off your feet into the nearest wall, there's a lack of over the top violence and dare I say it, Wasabi is more of a character story, even if it's an essentially light hearted one.

So how does Hubert get back to Japan? Well, it's set out early on when he invites Carole Bouquet round for dinner that he has never got over Miko, the woman he left in Japan, or rather the woman who left him without explanation. His guest recognises this, and any hopes that she may stay the night are quickly dashed, so imagine how he feels when he receives word that Miko has died. Not only that, but he is requested to be at her funeral and for the reading of the will, so I guess it's lucky that Hubert has some time off, as ordered by the police chief.

Off Hubert travels to the Far East, and after a scuffle at customs to remind us that he still acts first and thinks later, he meets up with his old friend and colleague Momo (Michel Muller). However, there is a surprise waiting for the detective when he visits the lawyer handling Miko's affairs, yes, she had a daughter by him called Yumi (Ryôko Hirosue). That the tiny Yumi is the offspring of the bulky Hubert strains the credulity somewhat, in fact they don't look anything like each other and I'd be asking for a paternity test if I was him. Their noses are supposedly the same, but apart from that it's just one of those movie conventions you have to go along with.

Wasabi is basically an opportunity to put the lugubrious but reliably likeable Reno in a fish out of water scenario, and as such it is undemandingly enjoyable. The thriller aspect emerges when Hubert finds out that Miko had two hundred million dollars that will be transferred into Yumi's bank account when she turns twenty - which she will do the next day. Where did the money come from? And why are there so many Yakuza hanging about the daughter? It's really not important, mainly the film wants to make you chuckle and maybe go a bit misty eyed when Hubert reveals to the otherwise bouncy Yumi that he is actually her father. It's amusing enough while it's on, but pretty lightweight for the most part, although fans of both French and Japanese cinema will find its mixture fun - providing they don't mind the way it apes Hollywood. Music by Julien Schultheis and Eric Serra.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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