Wasabi (2001)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 27, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - France  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This fun outing from the pen of Luc Besson is a good example of the kind of action film he turns out when not directing. The characterizations and plotting aren't terribly complex or surprising, but this turns out to be a minor quibble because Wasabi is more interested in having fun with the mechanics of the action genre. Wasabi is quite entertaining because it manages to put a postmodern spin on said mechanics -- it places its action sequences in novel locales like a department store and a video arcade, and places and deploys unexpected moments of comedy and drama to keep action fans on their toes. Jean Reno is excellent as the tough but sorrowful hero, effortlessly balancing the dramatic component of his role with plenty of deadpan, well-timed comedy. He also gets excellent support from Ryoko Hirosue as his fiery daughter and Michel Muller, who is a subtle delight as Hubert's goofy but very resourceful sidekick. Finally -- and most importantly -- this film is easy on the eye thanks to lush, intensely colorful cinematography from Gérard Sterin and slick, pace-conscious direction from Gérard Krawczyk. In short, Wasabi is a fine example of how another country can turn out an excellent variation on the American-style "popcorn movie."