Director – Katsuhito Ishii
Writer – Shohei Manabe (based on the Sumagura comic)
Screenplay – Kensuke Yamamoto; Masatoshi Yamaguchi; Katsuhito Ishii
Runtime 114 minutes
Giant Ape Media
Broke up into four acts/chapters Smuggler tells the tale of Kinuta, Satoshi Tsumabuki, (Fast and the Furious; Tokyo Drift, Dororo) a slacker with no real drive and a gambling addiction who finds himself in debt, and somehow in the Yakuza’s ‘pocket’. Forced into taking a job to repay his debt he finds himself deep in underworld dealings amidst companions of the same ilk. One an aged drunken gambler, and Joe (played by Masatoshi Nagase also seen in Suicide Club) an enigma of huge proportions.
Ouch! That really hurt, Char-lie!
Smuggler starts off quick then continues at a swift pace. Brutal slo-mo nunchuk antics, broken digits, OTT shocked looks, smashed visages, swallowed frogs and yakuza drug hauls. Then there’s an underworld forensic clean-up crew and arguments over which type of establishment to eat in and I’m only five minutes in.
Further scenes introduce, showcase and develop several characters including a pair of assassins who go by the name of Vertebrae and Viscera (probably the coolest names ever!), various mobster types and a mysterious banker with her fingers in kinds of nefarious ‘pies’. Within no time whatsoever a mafia boss is slaughtered and mailed, because why not, in pieces (more specifically his head complete with “glazzes”) to his associates.
Toss in some double crossing (because the allure of money always wins over loyalty), crazy eyebrows, lethal companions who really don’t see eye to eye (until one of them dies), an unforgettable fight scene where everything smacked against/bumped into sprays gold coins as if set in the Sega realm of Sonic the Hedgehog, ghastly apparitions, a maniacal torturer who makes Dexter appear kindergarten tame, CGI effects showcasing appendages bent at grotesque angles, spider-monkey bullet dodging antics, a tense score which sets the mood excellently and you have all the makings of an unpredictable movie that’s brimming over with intrigue, excitement, delightfully dark humor and a plethora of scenes you won’t be able to soon forget.
Smuggler is a film I might never have seen if it not for the stumbling over and perusal of a blunt review, and to think I don’t usually paty them any heed. To wrap this short piece up I’ll statute that I believe Smuggler to be a stunning feature that has no qualms in being so utterly blatant about its origins and influence, it succesfully plays out like a live action anime which fans of Ichi the Killer, Old Boy, the genius of Takeshi Miike and violent twisted anime will instantly appreciate so if you’re one of these by all means give this a few moments of your time. Feel free to toss me your thoughts and suggestions on others of the same ilk that you believe I might enjoy. Return the favor.
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