Director: Masayuki Suzuki
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Keiko Kitagawa, Takako Matsu, Yutaka Matsushige, Tetta Sugimoto, Yo Yoshida, Gaku Hamada, Norito Yashima
Runtime: 2 hrs
Released By: Encore Films and Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 8 October 2015
Synopsis: The film revolves around a traffic accident that occurred in the back alley of the Neustia embassy in Japan. The body of a socialite is found in one of the cars involved in the accident. Prosecutor Kohei Kuryu and his paralegal Chika Asagi are tasked to pursue the truth and seek redress for the victim. During the course of their investigation, Maiko Amamiya, who is Kuryu’s previous paralegal, makes a surprise appearance as a prosecutor for the Osaka Namba District. As it turns out, the key witness of her threaten case also happens to be the female victim of the Neustia embassy car accident. This seemingly innocuous traffic accident takes a more complicated turn, as new information from Amamiya’s threaten case is brought to the table. Kuryu’s countless requests for information and attempts to interview the embassy staff were all rejected, because of diplomatic bureaucracy and the fact that the Neustia embassy is protected by extraterritorial rights. In other words, the embassy’s territory is regarded as a “foreign space in the land of Japan”. The embassy retains its own laws and rights from its home country, and it seems impossible to interfere with the diplomatic ties between Japan and Neustia, even in the name of justice. In such difficult circumstances, how will HERO Kohei Kuryu overcome all odds to put justice in its rightful place?
In his trademark orange Bathing Ape jacket, public prosecutor Kuryu Kohei (Takuya Kimura) returns to the big screen after a hiatus of eight years.
This time, the public prosecutor who is famed for refusing to adhere by the book takes on a case involving a fatal traffic accident near the embassy of Neustria. At the same time, it’s revealed the female victim, a party escort happens to be an important witness in another seemingly unrelated case of blackmailing in Osaka. As it turned out, her death might have something to do with a foreign diplomat and the feared yakuza. Will the good and heroic once again triumph over the evildoer?
With this latest release of Hero 2015, it’s apparent why the filmmakers have done little to tamper with the successful formula. The well-liked character of Kuryu Kohei has come a long way since he first appear in the 2001 TV hit series and a subsequent revival in 2014. To loyal fans, this is akin to welcoming back the presence of an old friend. To others who have no prior knowledge of the Fuji TV series, this effort is mere a souped-up version of a TV feature or worst a draggy uneventful flick.
Of course, you can expect Kuryu Kohei hell bent on finding the truth and seeking justice for the deceased. However, it must note that the story often lacks the necessary tension and suspense to engage the audience despite the obvious attempt to throw in two pathetic scenarios that puts Kohei in danger. But then you already know no harm will comes to Takuya Kimura, the precious pop member of SMAP and talent under Johnny’s Entertainment. Thus the story plays out expectedly without leaving any room for surprises and stunning revelations.
Further more, there’s lots of dry dialogue involving diplomatic policies instead of witty courtroom drama. By the time the movie hits the 90 minutes mark, all those prior mention of illegal drug trafficking and hidden conspiracy quickly dissolved into afterthoughts. Also, the lack of a solid engaging opponent (unlike the first movie feature) adds to the limp affair. Don’t expect another fun detour to Korea to meet now international star Lee Byun-hun, Hero 2015 prefers to stay put in Japan’s soil and talk about diplomatic immunity and sausages.
Fortunately, all is not entire lost. Kuryu Kohei’s old flame and ex-assistant, Maiko Amamiya (famed Japanese actress Takako Matsu) returns to assist the case, as she is now the prosecutor of the Osaka, Namba district. Sitting out on the 2014 TV series, Takako Matsu returns to address the lingering love affair. I shall leave it to you if the pair of lovebirds manages to work things out in the end.
The rest of the quirky supporting cast members with a mix from the two TV series also appear here. That includes Fumiyo Kohinata (2001, 2014), Norito Yashima (2001, 2014), Gaku Hamada (2014), Yo Yoshida (2014), Takuzo Kadono (2001, 2014) as Kohei’s boss and the ultra-cool Yoji Tanaka, the owner of St George’s Tavern. Ultimately, the eye-pleasing Keiko Kitagawa who became Kohei’s assistant after the departure of Matsu’s character provides an affecting presence that represents the new blood of the Josai branch and perhaps a witness of Kohei and Amamiya’s ongoing unsaid affection towards each other.
Hero 2015 continues the running-gag of the TV cable-shopping network obsessed staff of the prosecutor branch though this time round, it’s more obligatory than funny. J-pop idol Takuya Kimura significantly looks older, less charming and even less comedic in this outing. End of the day, it’s the continuing chemistry between Matsu and him that stood out in the entire movie.
(Strictly for diehard fans of HERO)
Review by Linus Tee