Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Running Time: 126 minutes
The third film in the Bayside Shakedown series
is something of a spin off. It does center around one of the main characters
from the previous two films and has a few of the other characters in smaller
roles, but the precinct is nowhere to be seen and neither are Aoshima,
Sumire and Inspector Waku (the actor Chosuke Ikariya sadly died in 2004).
They are missed certainly, but the film still manages to retain much of
the Bayside persona. Without the antics of Aoshima though it takes itself
much more seriously and without Sumire it has lost much of its sex appeal,
but like the previous two it is character driven, rarely slows down for
a breath, indulges lovingly in melodrama at the drop of a hat and is punctuated
by the stern faced code of honor and obligation.
It is one year after the second film - Christmas
Eve and shoppers bustle gaily on the streets and in the stores of Tokyo,
but underneath the ground a deadly game of cat and mouse is about to begin.
Someone who only identifies himself as Dangan Liner has hacked into the
police computers and warns them that a bomb will go off at exactly 4:05
in a small park and worse will happen to the underground trains unless
they put their top negotiator on the case. This is of course Mashita –
whose subordinates joke can’t even negotiate successfully with his girlfriend,
Yukino, – but as Mashita says “That’s not negotiating, but begging”. He
is supposed to see her tonight at an event, but a call from Muroi puts
a stop to that.
As usual in these films, the top staff is more
concerned about protecting their rear ends and ask Muroi who is accountable
if Mashita fails – and the always stoic purse lipped Muroi replies “I am”.
Mashita and his staff (one of them being the real life the son of the current
Japanese Prime Minister and who was also in the second film as the surveillance
techy) set up their equipment in the communications center of the Tokyo
Transportation Railway and he immediately bangs heads with the supervisor,
Kataoka (veteran tough guy actor Jun Kunimora) who wants to know what this
young whippersnapper thinks he is doing. As in all the films in the series,
one of the main elements is the overcoming of different parochial groups
so that they can work together seamlessly.
Soon the trouble begins – an experimental train
is under the remote control of the Dangan Liner and he uses it to create
havoc in the system by having it nearly collide with other trains. He then
calls Mashita and the game begins. Dangan feeds Mashita a challenge – he
wants to beat the best and doles out clues that involve old movies like
“Juggernaut” and “Odessa File” so that the hunt can begin. Above ground,
Mashita has at his disposal the grouchy Kajima (Susumu Terashina) – almost
an attack dog running down the leads – and the tactical SAT team of sharpshooters
headed by Kusakabe. As the two men try to out think one another, it suddenly
becomes very personal – Mashita’s girlfriend Yukino is in imminent danger
– in fact the whole thing appears to be aimed for some reason at Mashita,
but the question is why?
The film sputters a bit at the very end with a
few major questions never even attempted to be answered, but on the whole
this is a fine addition to the series – great characters, that great spirit
in which these films excel and a plot that may from a distance resemble
a typical Hollywood concoction – but is in fact light years away as it
keeps testosterone heroics at a minimum and indulges in practically no
action or violence. It does though miss the light-hearted banter and group
dynamics that the first two films had plenty of as this is much more of
a one-man show and a standard police procedural. This seems to have been
reflected at the box office where this lagged noticeably (around $40 mm
which still placed it in the top 10) behind the first two.
My rating for this film: 7.5