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Wasabi

Starring: Jean Reno, Ryoko Hirosue, and Michel Muller
Directed by: Gérard Krawczyk
Rated: R

French (& Japanese) with English subtitles

Wasabi, for those unfamiliar, is an intense powerful horseradish. So given the title one would expect the film using such a daring descriptive word as a moniker for its content to also be intense and powerful. Not so. The writer, Luc Besson, is very popular in Japan. My Japanese friend said he's like Spielberg or Lucas is here. And he's written an action film. So perhaps his popularity is why this farcical fart of a film was made. I cannot for the life of me see its point.

The telegraphed story goes…Detective Hubert Fiorentini (Jean Reno) is a wild man cop. His hysterical (not) antics have his commanders in a state of tizzy like a firm froth on a frilly cappuccino.

When the superiors learn the diabolically mischievous detective's ex-lover in Japan has died they insist he head over, take a break, and remember her.

He is met by his old colleague from his past Japan secret police service days (?) named Momo (Michel Muller). The two are a blatant attempt at the film comedy duo. But even the fourth wall breaking glances of Bob Hope with Bing Crosby were a billion times subtler than these two generic character's horrid oblique comedy timing. I fully expected Michael McDonald (MadTv) to burst onto set as a flamboyant "director character" shouting; "And SCENE!" after each cued bit.

But detective Fiorentini 's homecoming isn't quite done. He has to meet with his ex's attorney for the reading of her will. There's a huge sum of money left and a daughter!

The daughter, Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue), who hates her father, whom she's never met and (har-har) doesn't realize it's the gasping-for-air-at-the-discovery detective. The daughter has the same annoying perpetually moving kinetic personality. So, here's a girl that has just learned her mother is dead, perhaps murdered, and all she wants to do is have fun! Girls will be girls huh? Argh!

She takes the "stranger" Fiorentini on a huge shopping spree to watch her buy too many tacky outfits. But, oh-oh what's this? The Japanese mafia guy they call "zebra" is after them? Huge shoot out in the mall - where the daughter is oblivious to the goings on around her thanks to badly choreographed fight scenes between her "father" and the hoodlums after them. Please let this end…. was all I could think as the bad acting congealed with the mediocre kung fu bits.

Jean Reno is a big star in France…remember these folks liked Jerry Lewis like we love us our Elvis too though before you go getting too impressed. Here Jean plays bad guys with an accent in some action films. Suits me fine.

The girl, Ryoko Hirosue, is a huge corporation in her homeland of Japan. Like a Brittany Spears but with a clothing line, perfume division and book deal. A mega businesswoman. Of course she can't act - but they don't seem to care. She's popular and super keen hip.

Obviously the film is hitting some important pop culture bits for the Japanese audience and if it were not so wickedly stupid through and through I'd be kinder. But as far as I am concerned it wasted nearly two hours of my precious time and has given me an odd repulsion at the site of wasabi. Yech.

Snack recommendation: An Italian meal till the dread of wasabi goes away.


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