Tuesday, 27 January 2009

DVD Review – Shinichi Yoshida: Mouru Koppu

Yesterday I reviewed the French precursor to the current number 1 film in America, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and noticed that it bears very little resemblance to the romantic comedy currently topping the charts in the US. While this fact may not be all that surprising, even brainy film lovers may not know that Jean-Paul Blarteau: Gendarme de l’Hypermarché is itself based on a Japanese film, 2005’s Shinichi Yoshida: Mouru Koppu.

Like with the French Paul Blart movie, the Japanese one has just been re-released by Asian Film Extreme! Pictures in an attempt to cash in on the new movie’s success. Given my total lack of anything to do last night (cheers again, Dave, Mister “Let’s go to the pub, no wait, I have to watch Grey’s Anatomy with the Missus”), I decided to watch it with notebook and pen in hand.

The Japanese version of the character Paul Blart, the eponymous Shinichi Yoshida (played by Jun Sakashita), is less of a slapstick buffoon and more of an angry anti-hero. The plot of the Japanese original is very similar to the newer American film, with the mall being overrun with katana-wielding yakuza (rather than balaclava-clad robbers), and only Yoshida being able to stop them. Also, much like in the latest film, the hero of the piece suffers ignominy at being a lowly mall cop, but, this being Japan, Yoshida is more worried about dishonouring his family, rather than letting himself down.

Similarities end with the plotline, though. This film is far more graphic and violent than Paul Blart, with flying disembodied limbs decapitating small children, automatic weaponry being fired into masses of writhing gangsters and a spectacular amount of blood. And that’s pretty much just in the first 30 minutes.

Indeed, anyone picking up this DVD as a gift for a child who enjoyed the American Paul Blart would be wise to watch it themselves first. There’s very little here suitable for young ones, not least the scene involving a many-tentacled monster and a busload of nuns.

Unlike in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, there’s not much of a romantic subplot to this film, unless you count the scene in which Yoshida is forced to do battle with a naked she-demon who has just emerged from a cursed television. And if you count that scene as romantic, forgive me for not wanting to French-kiss you.

It can be difficult to follow the plot of SY: MK at times; the scene in which a mysterious twelve-foot-tall goth turns up with a bass guitar which he uses to kill zombies, for example, is probably referencing some part of Japanese culture, but it’s lost on me. Happily, these elements are more than made up for by the visual splendour of the film. I kept track, and there are no scenes in the entire film in which cherry blossom does not appear, giving all the blood, guts, gore and tentacles a wonderful sheen by association.

All in all, Shinichi Yoshida: Mouru Koppu is a gripping, action-packed, slightly grotesque action film, in a very Japanese style. It is very different to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which is only grotesque because it features a very fat man with a terrible moustache. Given the choice between watching the two, I’d opt for death by mau mau.

Shinichi Yoshida: Mouru Koppu is available from Monday on Asian Film Extreme! Pictures DVD. Bonus material includes a totally inappropriate music video by a seemingly teenage girl with a really high voice and some of the most kawaii shit you’ve ever fucking seen.

1 comment:

katrocket said...

Mark my words: future film students will be writing 20 page essays on Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The semiotics in that masterpiece are off the charts.