Review: ‘The Wings of the Kirin’

Japanese TV spinoff "The Wings of the Kirin" is an intriguing murder mystery that swiftly takes flight and sustains itself most of the way before crashing in its final reels. Based on a novel by popular Nipponese crime writer Keigo Higashino, whose police detective Kyoichiro Kaga spawned tube hit "Shinzanmono" last year, pic should fly with local auds when it opens in January. Genre fests will want to look, but offshore prospects look dim.

Japanese TV spinoff “The Wings of the Kirin” is an intriguing murder mystery that swiftly takes flight and sustains itself most of the way before crashing in its final reels. Based on a novel by popular Nipponese crime writer Keigo Higashino, whose police detective Kyoichiro Kaga spawned tube hit “Shinzanmono” last year, pic should fly with local auds when it opens in January. Genre fests will want to look, but offshore prospects look dim.

When a salaryman (Kiichi Nakai) dies of stab wounds near the Kirin statues that adorn Tokyo’s famous Nihonbashi bridge, a former colleague (Takahiro Miura) is seen fleeing the crime scene. He’s later found comatose after being hit by a truck, but only stony-faced Det. Kaga (Hiroshi Abe) thinks it’s anything more than an open-and-shut case. Setup’s gripping complexities are sure to rivet auds’ attention until they realize the plot has painted itself into a corner, wrapping up with several reels of excruciating exposition. Still, Nobuhiro Doi’s direction has the purposeful narrative drive of a classic Quinn Martin copshow, and the production design to match, and the talented thesps turn in fine work. Tech credits are polished.

The Wings of the Kirin

Japan

Production

A Toho Co. release of a "The Wings of the Kirin" Production Committee production. (International sales: Tokyo Broadcasting System, Tokyo.) Produced by Atsushi Nasuda, Hidenori Iyoda, Junichi Shindo. Executive producer, Kazuya Yamamoto. Directed by Nobuhiro Doi. Screenplay, Takehara Sakurai, based on the novel by Keigo Higashino.

Crew

Camera (color), Hideo Yamamoto; editor, Junosuke Hogaki; music, Yugo Kanno; art director, Koichi Kanekatsu. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Special Screenings), Oct. 25, 2011. Running time: 129 MIN.

With

Hiroshi Abe, Kiichi Nakai, Yui Aragaki, Junpei Mizobata, Meisa Kuroki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Tori Matsuzaka, Takahiro Miura, Rena Tanaka.

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