Wasabi (2001)

Just Arrived and Already in Deep Shit

I would assume that the greater majority of my audience has not heard of today’s movie.  If I’ve not heard of a movie – with my vast and nearly complete knowledge of movies – then there is no way anyone else has.  Well, in this occasion, someone else had.  A friend made by these very reviews, Kendra, suggested that I review this movie and, though I am a fan of some of the people involved in this movie, I was unaware of the movie’s existence.  Heading boldly into the unknown, let’s see if Wasabi was any good, written by Luc Besson, directed by Gerard Krawczyk, and starring Jean Reno, Ryoku Hirosue, Michel Muller, Yoshi Oida, and Carole Bouquet.

Hubert Florentini (Jean Reno) is a cop that gets results, but through unconventional, and generally illegal, methods.  Yes, we’ve all seen that exact cop thousands of times before, but we’ve rarely seen a French one.  Hubert is put on suspension for one such unconventional display he’s put on, but he doesn’t know what to do with his free time.  19 years ago, the love of his life – a Japanese girl named Miko – left him with no explanation and he hasn’t let it go.  Just as he decides he should let it go, he gets a call that she’s died and he needs to go to Japan to get the stuff she left him.  One such thing that she’s left to Hubert is her daughter, Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue), who is coincidentally 19 years old.  Well it turns out Yumi is Hubert’s daughter, and Miko left her a large sum of money that she’ll have access to in 2 days when she becomes an adult.  Hubert hides the fact that he’s her father from her for a while as he tries to find out where this money came from and what Miko’s been up to for the past 19 years.

Wasabi was okay.  I was happy enough with it by the end of the movie, but there wasn’t really anything in it that impressed me.  We’ve probably all seen the movie with the awesome cop that doesn’t play by the rules.  We’ve probably even seen that guy find out he has a daughter that he now has to take care of, but it doesn’t go well.  It doesn’t really include any surprises in the story and keeps itself pretty typical.  That could be overcome in this action comedy if the action was awesome or the comedy was funny.  The action in the movie was kind of lackluster.  There were a few occasions when Hubert punched or shot some people and they flew further than you’d think was humanly possible, but it never really escalated past that.  It wasn’t really cool and stylized action, it was just a couple of punches or bullets and then moving on.  I did find some of the dialogue clever, but it never really reached a point where it made me laugh.  The setting was nice though, but that’s more due to Tokyo looking pretty cool.  And I get the feeling, with all of the hot chicks and video games that movies have taught me are there, that I need to just learn Japanese and movie to Tokyo already.  Then again, I do not endorse the idea of getting Jean Reno on a Dance Dance Revolution machine.  That’s a shitty game and you’re killing my image of Jean Reno by making him be ridiculous.  I was also confused by some parts of the movie, and the movie didn’t bother to let the American audience in on things, though I blame my own ignorance to how other countries work.  I was really confused by the fact that they kept talking about what would happen when 19-year-old Yumi was legally an adult, but people are apparently not considered adults in Japan until they’re 20.  I didn’t find that out until about an hour after the movie ended.  Also, why would a person in Japan know how to speak French?  It’s like a person in America knowing how to speak French.  And people act like that was a ridiculous decision for me!  Won’t be so ridiculous when I get to help Jean Reno and his daughter next time they come to town, will it?!

The two main performances in this movie worked out for me, but the bulk of the remaining cast made no impression or got on my nerves.  I love Jean Reno, though.  He can do badass as well as he can do emotion and vulnerability.  He can do comedy too, but that stuff has to be written funny to be able to be delivered as funny.  I found Ryoko Hirosue very cute, but a little exhausting.  She was usually running around and manic and that just wore me out.  She was able to slow down and pull off the emotional parts when she had to, though.  It also occurred to me while watching this movie that apparently Japanese girls think that beauty can be measured by how many colors you’re wearing at one time, or at least by how loud those colors are.  Most of the movie displayed her wearing something with a rainbow on it, or a bright orange jacket and matching tutu.  Even when she went to the funeral of her mother she was wearing something like this.  Some people go with all black, but you do what you gotta do.  Michel Muller got on my nerves through the bulk of the movie.  I don’t know who decided that these kinds of movies needed an annoying comic relief guy, but they don’t.  They just waste time.  He had parts in the movie where he was necessary, but he could have been normal and not failing to make the world laugh every time.

Wasabi was a fine enough movie, but I get the strong feeling that I’ve seen parts of it far too many times already.  The story was pretty typical, the action never really succeeded, but some of the dialogue was pretty clever, and I enjoyed both main characters.  Though I did think Wasabi was okay, I also don’t really think there’s any reason for you to see it.  If you could stream it on Netflix, I’d say it was okay if you couldn’t think of anything else.  But since you’d have to wait for the disc to come in through Netflix, you can skip it.  Wasabi gets “I can’t tell you the trouble we made” out of “With him, nothing takes long.”

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