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Adrenaline Drive (1999)

Cast: Masanobu Ando, Masanobu Ando, Hikari Ishida, more...
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi, Shinobu Yaguchi
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Comedies, Foreign, Black Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Japan, Yakuza, Quest, Road Movies
Running Time: 111 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Japanese director Shinobu Yaguchi first brought his wickedly funny brand of slapstick and deadpan black comedy to the screen in the 1993 cult hit Down the Drain, about a high-schooler undone by the seemingly innocuous use her friend's train pass. In this 1999 film, Yaguchi again mines the comic potential of a chance encounter to turn one's life upside-down. Suzuki (Masanobu Ando) is a meek, inarticulate car rental clerk who hates his job and his boss' petty bullying. His life takes a sudden ugly turn when he is dragged to a yakuza den after a fender-bender with a gangster named Kuroiwa. Yet luck intervenes, in the guise of a freak gas explosion that kills almost everyone in the place. Enter Shizuko (Hikari Ishida) a timid, overly serious nurse who dreams of the "new self" predicted by her horoscope. Hearing the explosion, she rushes to the scene and finds a dazed Suzuki, a gravely injured Kuroiwa, and a suitcase full of yen. On the way to the hospital, the mobster suddenly awakes and, as if programmed to protect his loot, grabs the wheel of the ambulance, sending it careening into a river. After Suzuki and Shizuko tumble onto the pavement, they realize that there is easy money for the taking, and they quietly swipe the cash and let the ambulance sink. The money gives them the courage to break away from their dead-end lives: Suzuki decks his dolt of a boss and Shizuko steps out of her bookish shell and becomes a knock-out in a red dress. Soon they are on the run and in love -- but, of course, things are never that easy. The situation starts to fall apart when both the cast-bound Kuroiwa and a band of dim-witted punks (played by the popular Japanese comedy group Jovi Jova) catch up with the two. Both Ando, who began his career in Takeshi Kitano's Kids Return, and well-known television star Ishida deliver great performances as the losers who evolve into gutsy combatants against the fearsome yakuza. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

On the other side of the fence--it sucks by JBellows October 26, 2003 - 10:21 AM PST
2 out of 7 members found this review helpful
I am going to go to the other camp on this one. Bad acting, bad script, bad editing about an on the road, escape from gangster story that goes nowhere. Through out this two hour movie that could have been an hour if done right, I:
did the dishes
organized my DVDs
answered a call from a telemarketer and talked about communism
When the credits rolled, I was genuinely surprised because I had let slip a hefty chunk of the end go by. I went back a bit and then figured, screw it. Out popped the DVD, back into the envelop where it will get sent back to GC. I'm writing this review now before I forget I had even seen this poor excuse for a film. One good bit: the old lady nurse. She rocked.

Enjoyable but Lightweight by mason August 12, 2002 - 9:23 AM PDT
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
This film is an entertaining bit of fun, but I can pretty much guarantee that it'll never be considered a classic of Japanese filmmaking. Suzuki and Shizuko meet each other by accident when a gas explosion happens to tear apart a yakuza headquarters while Suzuki is there (having been dragged there after a car accident). Having seen a briefcase full of cash prior to the explosion, Suzuki grabs it when the opportunity presents itself; Shizuko gets involved, and the two end up on the run when the yakuza's henchmen discover that they've taken the money.

Being a comedy-drama, to some extent, this film at least spares the viewer some of the heavy violence that many modern yakuza films (Sonatine, Gonin, etc) tend to resort to. Instead the characters have the chance to develop some personalities, which is nice. Unfortunately, the plot becomes a bit bogged down, and the director seems to have to force things to happen with frankly unbelievable coincidences. If you suspend your disbelief, the movie makes it way in an easy-going manner to an ending which is taken out of the standard book of happy-ending cliches.

The stars are fairly good, and the character interactions are what make the movie worthwhile. Don't expect too much, but if you're in the mood for a somewhat goofy adventure, give it a try.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.23)
62 Votes
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