do not sing, but they should be able to tell jokes. However, theme songs are a
handy way to ensure undercover cops always remember their principles. I mean
obviously, right? These are about the only rules that apply during The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji (trailer here), Takashi Miike’s
manic adaptation of the hit manga series, which screens as a co-programmed
selection of the 2014 Japan Cuts and New York Asian Film Festival.
Kikukawa is the lowest scoring patrolmen to somehow graduate from the police
academy. Basically, he is an idiot, so who would suspect him of being a deep
cover narc? After trying to bust a pervy city councilman, Kikukawa is summarily
fired and then wink-wink rehired to infiltrate the feared Sukiya-kai clan. Kikukawa’s
ultimate target is the elusive boss Shuho Todoroki, but for reasons that would
not make sense to explain, the #2, Masaya Hiura (a.k.a. Crazy Papillion) quickly
takes Kikukawa under his wing.
also takes a shine to Hiura because of the yakuza’s unyielding stand against
drug trafficking. Unfortunately, someone within the organization is not so
principled. Kikukawa soon feels rather confused and abandoned. Much to his
frustration, being a gangster also complicates his awkward attempts to put the
moves on his cute former colleague, Junna Wakagi.
Kikukawa experiences flashbacks of his superior officers singing “The Mole
Song,” which is a crime in itself. However, that sort of shameless lunacy is
right in Miike’s power alley. Mole Song makes
the original Police Academy look like
a Noel Coward drawing room comedy. No gag is too slapsticky and no humiliation
is too unlikely to inflict on Kikukawa.
he keeps plugging away, because Mole Song
also has heart. You have to hand it to Toma Ikuta’s Kikukawa—there is
nothing he will not do for a laugh—starting with being strapped naked spread
eagle to the hood of a speeding car. Literally, that is where Miike starts. Kenta
Kurokawa and Itsei Nekozawa also make quite a strong impression as
feline-themed yakuza assassins, who look like CATS chorus members on crystal meth.
Naka does her level best to provide some grounding as the decent Wakagi, but
she is fighting a losing battle. However, Shinichi Tsutsumi (who also plays a
bonkers yakuza in Sion Sono’s Why Don’t
You Play in Hell?) largely steals the show as the indomitably hardnosed
seems to be having a ball trying out nutty ideas throughout Mole Song and the fun is contagious. Frankly,
it is rather impressive how many of the bits successfully land. Recommended for
those who want to see a madcap cartoon with live people, Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji screens tomorrow (7/10) at the
Japan Society, as the opening film of this Year’s Japan Cuts: the New York Festival of
Contemporary Japanese Film, co-presented by NYAFF.
Labels: Japan Cuts '14, Japanese Cinema, NYAFF '14, Takashi Miike, Yakuza films