Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Japanese director Shinobu Yaguchi first brought his wickedly funny brand of slapstick and deadpan black comedy to the screen in the 1993 cult hit Down the Drain, about a high-schooler undone by the seemingly innocuous use her friend's train pass. In this 1999 film, Yaguchi again mines the comic potential of a chance encounter to turn one's life upside-down. Suzuki (Masanobu Ando) is a meek, inarticulate car rental clerk who hates his job and his boss' petty bullying. His life takes a sudden ugly turn when he is dragged to a yakuza den after a fender-bender with a gangster named Kuroiwa. Yet luck intervenes, in the guise of a freak gas explosion that kills almost everyone in the place. Enter Shizuko (Hikari Ishida) a timid, overly serious nurse who dreams of the "new self" predicted by her horoscope. Hearing the explosion, she rushes to the scene and finds a dazed Suzuki, a gravely injured Kuroiwa, and a suitcase full of yen. On the way to the hospital, the mobster suddenly awakes and, as if programmed to protect his loot, grabs the wheel of the ambulance, sending it careening into a river. After Suzuki and Shizuko tumble onto the pavement, they realize that there is easy money for the taking, and they quietly swipe the cash and let the ambulance sink. The money gives them the courage to break away from their dead-end lives: Suzuki decks his dolt of a boss and Shizuko steps out of her bookish shell and becomes a knock-out in a red dress. Soon they are on the run and in love -- but, of course, things are never that easy. The situation starts to fall apart when both the cast-bound Kuroiwa and a band of dim-witted punks (played by the popular Japanese comedy group Jovi Jova) catch up with the two. Both Ando, who began his career in Takeshi Kitano's Kids Return, and well-known television star Ishida deliver great performances as the losers who evolve into gutsy combatants against the fearsome yakuza. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.
Japan, accident, explosion, gangster, money, suitcase, pursuit, clerk, doctor/nurse