Scrap Heaven

Rebellious urges lead to inarticulate angst in "Scrap Heaven," a wayward indie from Japan. Supporting performances from cult thesps will see this scrape into Asian-themed fests. But after some early laffs, the script loses momentum. Pic did respectable arthouse biz in Japan last year, but nowhere near the level of Toei-backed "Sixty-Nine."

With:
With: Ryo Kase, Joe Odagiri, Chiaki Kuriyama, Akira Emoto.

Rebellious urges lead to inarticulate angst in “Scrap Heaven,” a wayward indie from Japan. Supporting performances from cult thesps — Chiaki Kuriyama, who played Gogo Yubari in “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” and Joe Odagiri, the sicko in “Azumi” — will see this scrape into Asian-themed fests. But after some early laffs, the script loses momentum. Pic did respectable arthouse biz in Japan last year, but nowhere near the level of Toei-backed “Sixty-Nine,” the previous outing by Japan-based, ethnic Korean director Lee Sang-il.

While on a hijacked bus, ineffectual police desk-jockey Shingo Kasuya (Ryo Kase) finds himself unable to protect fellow hostages, including anarchic toilet cleaner Tetsu Kuzui (Odagiri) and bored pharmacist Saki Fujimura (Kuriyama). Later, trickster Kuzui emboldens the shamed Kasuya by recruiting him for a scheme in which the duo act out people’s revenge fantasies for profit. A series of setpieces, including a boy’s revenge on his cruel mother, provide laughs, but when potential customer Saki adds a volatile element to Tetsu’s nihilism, the pic becomes philosophically pretentious. Sang’s helming is inventive, but the film’s artificial oomph can’t hide his script’s weaknesses. Lensing is good; other tech credits are professional.

Scrap Heaven

Japan

Production: A Scrap Heaven Film Partners presentation of an Office Shirous, TV Tokyo Corp., Bandai Visual Co., Yes Visions Co., Zazou production. (International sales: Bandai Visual, Tokyo.) Produced by Suguru Kubota, Masami Yanagihara, Satoshi Kouno, Haruhiko Yoshida. Directed, written by Lee Sang-il.

Crew: Camera (color), Kouzo Shibasaki; editor, Tsuyoshi Imai; music, Aida Shigekazu; production designer, Toshiharu Nakamae. Reviewed at Hong Kong Film Festival, April 6, 2006. Running time: 116 MIN.

With: With: Ryo Kase, Joe Odagiri, Chiaki Kuriyama, Akira Emoto.

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