Trouble-Shooters

Made in 1995 (with the English title "Trouble With Nango") but only now receiving its international market preem, "Trouble-Shooters" is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that's helmer Masato Harada's stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies --- the epic-length "Kamikaze Taxi" (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, "Bounce Ko Gals" (1997, aka "Leaving"). A genuine maverick who doesn't fall prey to the usual excesses of the Japanese indie scene, Harada, 50, whose multifaceted career has taken him from Tokyo to London and L.A., is ripe for fest retrospectives, into which "Trouble-Shooters" would fit nicely.

With:
Daisuke Nango ..... Koji Matoba Shozo Akita ..... Leo Morimoto Koran ..... Hiroko Fukuda Teru ..... Hajime Asoh George ..... Ryo Onoda Romeo ..... Sachika Kin Juliet ..... Eiji Ohki Ogawara ..... Shunji Nakayama Kaiyama ..... Takashi Sasano Miyata ..... Tatsumi Nikamoto

Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko Gals” (1997, aka “Leaving”). A genuine maverick who doesn’t fall prey to the usual excesses of the Japanese indie scene, Harada, 50, whose multifaceted career has taken him from Tokyo to London and L.A., is ripe for fest retrospectives, into which “Trouble-Shooters” would fit nicely.

Central idea — a group sets up an agency to solve other people’s problems — is similar to that of at least two other movies, the ironic Chinese comedy, “Three T Company” (aka “The Trouble-Shooters,” 1990) by Mi Jiashan and “Gulls and Gangsters” (1997) by Hungary’s Peter Bacso. Head trouble-shooter here is Daisuke Nango (Koji Matoba), a former policeman who left the force after an affair with a yakuza’s moll and now goes around promoting his singing career in chintzy dance halls. Nango teams up with his unemployed, somewhat dim uncle (Leo Morimoto) and a young yakuza who’s impressed with Nango’s negotiating skills.

First case for the Trouble-Shooters, as Nango calls the firm, doesn’t go too well. While helping a mother deal with her rebellious, coke-snorting son, Nango almost beats the kid senseless. After this slowish start, meat of the pic surfaces about 40 minutes in, when Nango is hired by a yakuza boss (Tatsumi Nikamoto) to help out his favorite hostess, half-Chinese Koran (Hiroko Fukuda), two of whose girls have recently been raped. The incidents have been traced back to a watering hole frequented by members of the boss’s clan — a development that leads Nango into a tangled web of deceit.

Pic has many of the hallmarks of Harada’s best work: a lopsided feel that slowly takes more proper shape, like a boat being righted in the water; plenty of straight-faced humor; a setting that’s realistically depicted but is full of off-center details; and occasional bursts of violence or the unexpected. Just as “Kamikaze Taxi” looked at the crime world through the minor character of a cabby , and “Bounce Ko Gals” was nothing like you’d expect of a movie dealing with schoolgirl hookers, the present item isn’t just a crime movie — more a portrait of an arrogant, slightly crazy, slick-talking operator who finds that even he can be set up.

Pacing is somewhere between the extremely leisurely “Kamikaze” and the zippy “Bounce,” and takes a while to show its hand, with rather too long spent sketching the relationship between Nango and his uncle. Perfs, however, are on the mark, with Matoba well cast as Nango and Fukuda strong as Koran. Masahiro Kawasaki’s varied, soloistic score stands out among the otherwise unflashy production credits.

*

Trouble-Shooters

(CRIME DRAMA -- JAPANESE)

Production: A Bandai Visual production. (International sales: Pony Canyon, Tokyo.) Produced by Yoshihiro Kimura, Hisao Nabeshima, Nobuaki Izaki. Directed, written by Masato Harada.

Crew: Camera (color), Katsumi Yanagishima; editor, Hirohide Abe; music, Masahiro Kawasaki; production designer, Norihiro Isoda; sound, Jun Nakamura, Kenji Shibazaki. Reviewed on videocassette, London, June 21, 1999. (In Cannes Film Festival --- market.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Daisuke Nango ..... Koji Matoba Shozo Akita ..... Leo Morimoto Koran ..... Hiroko Fukuda Teru ..... Hajime Asoh George ..... Ryo Onoda Romeo ..... Sachika Kin Juliet ..... Eiji Ohki Ogawara ..... Shunji Nakayama Kaiyama ..... Takashi Sasano Miyata ..... Tatsumi NikamotoWith: Satoru Ohkubo, Akiko Kudoh, Mituzo Ishii, Kenichi Yajima, Fujio Suga, Toshi Shioya.

More Film

  • Joanna Vargas, Facialist, Opens Los Angeles

    Meet Celebrity Facialist Joanna Vargas, Who Has 'About 30' Starry Clients for Oscars

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Mens Red Carpet Fashion Roundup

    Time to Suit Up: Hollywood’s Men Hit the Refresh Button on Red Carpet

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Guillermo del Toro Shape of Water

    Foreign-Born Talent Finds a Welcome Place in Entertainment

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Blade Runner 2049 Harrison Ford

    Sound Is 50% of the Movie, but Hollywood is Often Tone-Deaf

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Guadalajara -- 2018 -- Ibero-American Fiction

    A First Look at Guadalajara Film Festival's Ibero-American Fiction Competition Selection

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Berlinalle --2018-- First Málaga Coproduction Meet

    'Slaughterhouse,' 'About the Clouds,' 'Candela,' 'Deeper' Ready For 1st Málaga Festival Fund & Co-production Meet

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

  • Dragonkeeper Concept Art Final

    ‘Dragonkeeper,' 'Chandasma,' 'Another Day of Life' Set for Cartoon Movie

    Made in 1995 (with the English title “Trouble With Nango”) but only now receiving its international market preem, “Trouble-Shooters” is a flawed but fascinating offbeat crime drama that’s helmer Masato Harada’s stylistic connection between his two very different cult movies — the epic-length “Kamikaze Taxi” (1994) and his impressive recent return to form, “Bounce Ko […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content