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Kevin Ouellette [Celluloid 10.29.08] movie review action comedy

Year: 2006
Release date: DVD (R1) Nov. 18th, 2008
Director: Minoru Kawasaki
Writers: Minoru Kawasaki & Takao Nakano
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon link: link
Review by: Kevin Ouellette
Rating: 8 out of 10

Japan has a long history of heroic fictional characters who subdue bad guys by hurling objects at them, such as Zenigata Heiji: the cop who catches criminals by throwing coins and Ultra 7: the henshin hero who temporarily detaches his “Eye Slugger” to hurl at evildoers. To pay homage to that idea, as well as to spoof Japanese detective shows, director Minoru Kawasaki set out to create his own take on the genre. Of course, being the guy that brought us movies like Executive Koala and “Crab Goalkeeper”, plenty of absurdity was in order—but for the first time in his career, he didn’t resort to putting an animal in a typically human a situation.

We’re first introduced to our heroic detective in the midst of a dangerous hostage situation. A ventriloquist dummy is holding up a bank with a gun, much to the horror of the customers and the ventriloquist himself, who claims to have no control over the puppet. Suspiciously well-coifed Detective Genda (Fuyuki Moto) decides to take matters into his own hands and casually walks into the bank branch against the urging of the other cops on the scene. After trying to calmly talk some sense into the puppet, things quickly go bad. In a flash, Genda, known simply as “Detective Rug” to his co-workers, quickly pulls off his toupee and slings it at the inanimate criminal, popping its head off with ease. In true detective show form, Genda doesn’t stay to sort out the mess; he just walks out while his clichéd TV-style theme song begins to play.

Genda has the best arrest record of any cop he serves with, but because of his unorthodox style of police work he’s always been an outcast. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s basically every detective story ever made boiled down to its base elements and given an insane twist. Moto is no stranger to comedy, but he plays the role with total conviction and sells the detective clichés in what could have quickly devolved into slapstick instead of a comedic, lighthearted spoof.

Genda soon finds himself transferred to a team of like-minded detectives who, while they may not always go by the book, are able to utilize their unique skills to get things done. There’s Tonko: the office assistant/martial arts expert, Detective Big Dick, Detective Fatty, Detective Shorty, Detective Old Man, and Detective Handsome. Sure, their special skills may have limited use in the real world, but in this movie even the goofiest abnormality can be used to one’s strategic advantage when the need arises.

The actual plot is nearly irrelevant; but basically it involves a diabolical gang, a mysterious criminal mastermind with a surprising past, and a nuclear device that could wipe out an entire city. Pretty standard stuff—but done with Kawasaki’s typical style of merging a love for the source material he’s spoofing with a general outlook that ranges anywhere form mildly absurd to totally bonkers.

This film certainly conforms to Kawasaki’s well-established modus operandi—playing an absurd storyline with as straight a face as possible—but this time he avoids the common pitfall of going too straight. Because of this balance, “The Rug Cop” surpasses The Calamari Wrestler as Kawasaki’s funniest movie to date in my opinion. Whether that’s saying much or not probably depends on how silly you like your comedies. If the answer is “very”, you’d probably enjoy this one a whole lot.

Cross-posted on nipponcinema.

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