Movie Reviews 251 – Wasabi (2001)

WasabiRelegated to bit comedic parts in North American movies, Jean Reno gets his due in other countries with starring roles that flaunt his many talents. Wasabi is an excellent example of this as it places punch happy French cop Hubert (Reno) in Japan to deal with a 19 year old, free spirited Shinjuku girl and she is just the beginning of his problems.

Heartbroken by the mysterious sudden rejection of Miko, the love of his life, years ago while working in Japan, Hubert likes to round up bad guys (and the occasional innocent bystander) with his fists as much as with his gun, both with equal precision and equally effective. He’s also pretty good with golf clubs and golf balls sometime even using them for golf. But when the latest victim of his flying knuckles is the son of a high ranking official, he gets an unwanted two month vacation.

Rather than getting a chance to practice his golf swing instead of his fist swing, he gets an unexpected call from an estate lawyer in Japan. It seems that Miko has passed away and left him something in her will. Arriving in Japan he is presented with a box of memories, and a daughter he never knew he had. Yumi (Ryôko Hirosue) doesn’t know the identity of this stranger Hubert, but is placed in his care until she becomes 20, which will be in a mere two days.

But bent on solving the mystery of why Miko left so suddenly those many years ago, especially given the fact that they had a child on the way, Hubert is now faced with caring for a wild child and the fact that she seems to be the target of the yakuza. Hubert enlists the aid of his longtime friend, the flap ear lobed Maurice ‘Momo’ (Michel Muller) who is a French cop still with the Japanese operation Hubert used to work for. The clash of lifestyles is matched by the clash of ages as Hubert and Momo try to reel in Yumi as the clues and insanity mount.

Written and produced by Reno’s frequent partner in crime, director Luc Besson, the movie was not directed by him this time around but rather another of Besson’s collaborator’s, fellow director Gérard Krawczyk.

Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with Jean Reno in a great cop comedy that also has just the right tug of the heartstrings, riddles and slice of Japanese craziness.

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