“Fall Guy” – Jason DeMoe

Ah, Asian cinema. I have very little experience with the subject, but it seems I’m learning more on a daily basis. From what I have witnessed, most movies seem awkward and even hopelessly corny at times. Maybe that’s all a part of the charm? Also, each film I have viewed contains a slough of random “cronies” or “sidekicks” that seem destined to one day perform as the Asian Larry, Moe, and Curly-San. My latest venture into the realm of Asian film brought me to an interesting little title, Fall Guy. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku of Battle Royale fame, it stars Keiko Matsuzaka, Morio Kazama, and Mitsuru Hirata, among many others.

The film opens onto a somewhat amusing samurai fight scene, and we soon realize that the two “stars” of the film happen to be battling for the most number of close-ups. Each armed with his own set of bit players/hangers-on that will do nearly anything to ensure his success, the film continues on with the story of one of these men. Ginshiro (Kazama) is an emotionally-charged, overly dramatic, charismatic leading man who is quite worried about his future as an actor. His personal life has taken a turn for the worse, as he has recently heard some things from one of his mistresses (Matsuzaka) that are not exactly going to spell good press for him. Let’s just say this is one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet. Konatsu refuses to get an abortion, so Ginshiro must come up with another solution to hide the fact that his mistress is about to have his child. Gin calls on his best friend of ten years, Yasu (Hirata). The plan is for Yasu to marry Konatsu and take any and all heat off of Ginshiro. Yasu eventually agrees, and from that point on this film, gives brand-new meaning to the phrase, “What a tangled web we weave.” The action culminates in Ginshiro asking Yasu to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his sinking career.

I will admit that at first glance, I surely didn’t think this film would really interest me in any way, and even after viewing the first ten minutes or so, I was still wholly unconvinced. I decided to stick it out, though, and I am quite glad that I did. Yes, the acting is horrendously soap opera-esque, but that can be easily explained if you pay attention to what the film might be trying to say. Japanese humor is in full force throughout the entirety of the this romantic rendezvous, but there are some attempts at seriously genuine moments as well.

Kazama does a fair job of portraying Ginshiro as basically an infant child trapped up in a man’s body and, his counterpart Yasu, played by Mitsuru Hirata, definitely has his moments. At times he shines, especially in one poignant scene where he nearly destroys his apartment. Keiko Matsuzaka, as the token object of beauty in this story, is exactly that: a beauty. She makes it through her scenes and does a decent job at times, but I was not thrilled with her overall performance.

If you “get” Japanese humor, then you’ll surely get a kick out of this film, but if you couldn’t care less, then possibly not. There is a bit of a comedic twist ending that might throw you off-guard in a great way, as well. I’d say give Fall Guy a chance if you think you can handle a few subtitles and a bit of corny fun.

Rating: ★★½☆

-Jason DeMoe

Read more of Jason’s reviews at Screen Spotlight.

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