The taxing woman of the title is that in two respects. First of all, she is a tax inspector, and a most dedicated one, but she is also taxing, since she never tires or lets go of her prey, once she has set her sights on him. The victim, in this case, is a hood operating adult motels and crooked real estate deals.
In the tradition of the American thriller, but far more humorously put, the heroine is single, exclusively dedicated to her job, a tough cookie in remarkably feminine wrapping. Nobuko Miyamoto, who plays the part, happens to be Itami’s wife, and she fits the role to perfection.
Her running duel with Tsutomu Yamazaki, as the limping gangster she chases, holds plenty of twists and surprises, as new plots and tricks for beating the tax rap are introduced and one by one unveiled by the law.
Tighter than his first film, The Funeral, and better constructed than Tampopo, The Taxing Woman drives relentlessly forward, mixing social satire with action and sex, if anything piling it a bit too much for one film, and that in spite of the fact Itami says he used barely one-tenth of the material he collected in his extensive research.