The Most Terrible Time in My Life

"The Most Terrible Time in My Life" is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this "Hammer's" efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi ("Circus Boys") has designed a striking package whose mix of hip humor, genre nods and visual oomph should travel quite well.

With:
Maiku Hama ... Masatoshi Nagase Hoshino ... Kiyotaka Nambara Kanno ... Shiro Sano Yang Haitin ... Yang Haitin Hou de Jian ... Hou De Jian

“The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed a striking package whose mix of hip humor, genre nods and visual oomph should travel quite well.

Title is a pun on “The Best Years of Our Lives” — the movie playing in a cinema whose projection booth doubles as the intrepid Hama’s Yokohama office. (Cranky box office personnel downstairs won’t let his clients pass unless they’ve bought a ticket.) With his hair slicked back, omnipresent sunglasses and cool threads, he seems the very model of tough-as-nails suaveness. Yet Hama spends an inordinate amount of time getting punched, kicked and shot by everyone in sight.

First such incident occurs when he steps in to protect a Chinese waiter from a quick-tempered customer in a mah-jongg parlor. His gallantry is admirable, his judgment less so, as a lopped-off finger soon must be retrieved from a dog’s mouth before reattachment surgery.

Such gruesome bits startle but work well amid sly, drily comedic tenor Hayashi contrives. Yet humor gradually recedes from centerstage as the real storyline emerges — Hama takes on case of finding the Taiwanese “waiter’s” apparently long-lost brother, only to find himself plunged into a dangerous thicket of Japan/China mob rivalries.

Once this scenario gets going, the sleuth himself is almost superfluous to action, despite Masatoshi Nagase’s droll performance; attention is riveted instead on the two brothers, played with magnetism to spare by Taiwan stars Yang Haitin and Hou de Jian. Their classic Catch-22 of conflicting family/mob loyalties climaxes in tense gun standoff that takes film into a deadly serious, even tragic new dimension.

Pic looks great, with b&w Cinemascope creating an early-’60s Nippon gangster-flick feel; striking, tilted compositions and chiaroscuro lighting effects add elements of noir homage as well. Use of music is sparing but witty, often reminiscent of themes for ’70s TV actioners like “Mannix.” All other tech aspects are tops.

While its coating of cineaste irony may make “Most Terrible Thing” less than a sure-fire commercial property, it looks ideal for cult status on the rep circuit. Pic wraps up with kitschy tinted footage ostensibly lifted from the next Mike Hama film, “Stairway to the Distant Past,” then ends on color shot of sleuth outside his cinema-cum-office.

The Most Terrible Time in My Life

Japan-Taiwan

Production: A Herald Ace presentation of a Shutter Pictures/Taipei/For Life Records Inc. co-production. Produced by Shunsuke Koga, Kaizo Hayashi, Yu Wei Yen. Executive producer, Yutaka Goto. Directed by Kaizo Hayashi. Screenplay, Daisuke Tengan, Hayashi.

Crew: Camera (b&w, Cinemascope), Yuichi Nagata; editor, Nobuko Tomita; music, Meina Co.; production design, Takeo Kimura; costumes, Masae Miyamoto; lighting, Tatsuya Osada. Reviewed at AMC Kabuki 8, San Francisco, May 5, 1994. (In S.F. Intl. Film Festival). Running time: 92 MIN.

With: Maiku Hama ... Masatoshi Nagase Hoshino ... Kiyotaka Nambara Kanno ... Shiro Sano Yang Haitin ... Yang Haitin Hou de Jian ... Hou De JianWith: Yu Wei Yen, Wu Kao, Hsiung, Caroline Lu, Jo Shishido, Kaho Minami.

More Film

  • Shelter PR

    Shelter PR Expands With New Film and TV Division, Hires Veteran PR Exec Alicia Ramirez Wyld

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • From 'Lego Batman' to 'Ferdinand' to

    From 'Lego Batman' to 'Ferdinand' to 'Boss Baby,' These Actors Inspire the Animators

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • Rose (ALLISON WILLIAMS) connects with boyfriend

    Jordan Peele Praises His 'Get Out' Below the Line Crew

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • Best Picture Contenders The Shape of

    Oscars: Best Picture Field Shifts Into Focus

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • Woody Harrelson Venom

    Woody Harrelson in Talks to Join Tom Hardy in 'Venom'

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • The Fate of the Furious

    Universal Crosses $5 Billion Mark at 2017 Worldwide Box Office

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

  • I Love You, Daddy

    Louis C.K.'s 'I Love You, Daddy' Leaks Online After Being Pulled From Theatrical Release

    “The Most Terrible Time in My Life” is posited as the first in a three-part feature series following the adventures of Japanese private eye Maiku (Mike) Hama. Unlike his Western namesake, this “Hammer’s” efforts at stone-cold machismo perennially run awry. While narrative takes its time in catching hold, director Kaizo Hayashi (“Circus Boys”) has designed […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content