An undercover agent guards an endorsement model with almost no cover at all in the mirthful, sporadically lurid Nipponese spy spoof "Mr Tadano's Secret Mission -- From Japan With Love."

An undercover agent guards an endorsement model with almost no cover at all in the mirthful, sporadically lurid Nipponese spy spoof “Mr Tadano’s Secret Mission — From Japan With Love.” Pic reps a feature-length version of popular tube show “Hiroshi Tadano, the Extraordinary Assistant Manager,” which itself grew out of a well-known manga. As with “Get Smart,” the laff quotient renders the mystery-thriller spine irrelevant. Skedded for November domestic release, the film looks set for solid B.O.; as the tube version is popular throughout Asia, other countries will follow suit. Elsewhere, Asian-themed fests hoping for a good dirty laugh will investigate.

Dweeby, scorned salaryman by day, suave, adored secret agent by night, Hitoshi Tadano (Katsunori Takahashi) is recruited to protect young model Sylvia (Rina Akiyama), whose predilection for cowboy hats and buttock-revealing shorts help sell beer. James Bond references abound, but pic has a distinct approach to humor that is inventive, enjoyable and undeniably juvenile. Takahashi is naturally comfortable in the role he originated for television, while others give enjoyable support. Helming, by tube director Hisashi Ueda, is unremarkable but on target. Tech credits also hit the mark.

Mr. Tadano's Secret Mission – From Japan With Love

Japan

Production

A Shochiku presentation of a TV Asahi, MMJ production. (International sales: Shochiku Co., Tokyo.) Produced by Tetsuya Kuroda, Keichiro Akiyama, Tatsuya Ito, Mayumi Shimizu. Executive producer, Yuji Tojo. Directed by Hisashi Ueda. Screenplay, Masaya Ozaki, based on the manga by Kimio Yanaagisawa.

Crew

Camera (color), Masao Asaka; music, Tadashi Nakanishi. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Special Screening), Oct. 23, 2008. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Katsunori Takahashi, Atsuko Sakurai, Masaru Nagai, Euri Ebihara, Ryosei Tayama, Rina Akiyama, Ayako Nishikawa, Hidekazu Akai, Choi Hong-man.
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