A zesty romantic comedy about a glam career woman who finds true love as a bicycle courier, "Messengers" is a brightly limned package that's as smart as its heroine's Lycra shorts. Decked out with engaging characters and attractive leads, pic is a reel too long but good audience-pleasing fare nonetheless.

A zesty romantic comedy about a glam career woman who finds true love as a bicycle courier, “Messengers” is a brightly limned package that’s as smart as its heroine’s Lycra shorts. Decked out with engaging characters and attractive leads, pic is a reel too long but good audience-pleasing fare nonetheless.

Well-known model Naoko Iijima toplines as champagne-quaffing Naomi, who, while fleeing bankruptcy in her Alpha Romeo, knocks over a biker (Hiroyuki Yabe) and abjectly takes his place in the small-time delivery service, Tokyo Express, which he runs with his partner, Suzuki (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, from popular TV group SMAP). After a klutzy start — played with gallant humor by Iijima — Naomi decides to stay with the company and save face with her double-dealing ex-b.f. (Tetsuya Bessho) by grabbing his employers’ courier account from a bigger, more aggressive firm. Pic ping-pongs between off-bike character scenes and elaborate sequences in which the two competing bike firms speed through the streets of Tokyo, using various dirty tricks. Final race, at almost 20 minutes, is a mite overstretched, but pic’s good-naturedness is infectious, with helmer Yasuo Baba pushing all the right buttons.

Messengers

(JAPAN)

Production

A Toho Co. release of a Fuji Television Network/Pony Canyon/Shogakukan production, in association with Premier Intl. (International sales: Pony Canyon, Tokyo.) Directed by Yasuo Baba. Screenplay, Masashi Todayama; story, Hoichoi Prods. Camera (color), Genkichi Hasegawa; editor, Takuya Taguchi; music, Yusuke Honma; theme song, Toshinobu Kubota; art director, Tomio Ogawa. Reviewed at AMC multiplex, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, Nov. 28, 1999. Original title: Meshanja. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

With: Naoko Iijima, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Hiroyuki Yabe, Kotomi Kyono, Yuzo Kayama, Tetsuya Bessho, Shigemitsu Ogi, Shinsuke Kyo, Shinsuke Aoki, Yuko Ito.
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