Movies You Might Have Missed: Wasabi

Title: Wasabi
Release Date: 2001
Rating: R
Length: 94 minutes
Director: Gérard Krawczyk
Starring: Jean Reno, Ryoko Hirosue, Michel Muller
Language: French, Japanese
Country: France

Wasabi is a very French movie. Or, perhaps, it is a very Luc Besson movie. The action is over-the-top. The plot, such as it is, is ridiculous. The actors aren’t bad, but the acting sure is. The humor is sophomoric. And yet, it all kinda works. Well, it works if you enjoy movies like The Fifth Element (also from Besson).

Our hero, played by Jean Reno, is a stereotypical, lone wolf, no-nonsense, tough, get-results, break-the-rules cop. When he arrives at a bank robbery the detectives already there roll their eyes and curse under their breath. He’s basically The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson from The Other Guys, except the movie is about him, not the other guys.

After a chewing out from his boss, a brush-off from his best girl, he resolves to stop pining for his lost love and turn over a new leaf. Of course, at that EXACT moment the phone rings with the news that his long-lost love has died and left everything to him. He needs to fly to Japan (Oh, did I forget to mention they met when he was a special forces officer assigned there during the Cold War?) for the cremation and reading of the will. On arrival he reunites with his old partner (who is pure comic relief). His partner expects that Reno is back to stage more secret missions into Russia, as they did during the late unpleasantness.

Nope! Instead we come to find out that his dead lover has left him $100 million (or some equally silly amount) and guardianship of a daughter about which he never knew. Because of course.

Look, it just gets more and more crazy from there. The yakuza show up, his daughter also doesn’t know about him, but hates her unknown dad for being absent… What are you gonna do? It’s Besson, man. You can’t go in expecting to take it too seriously, but if you can enjoy the comedic handling of the (thin, full of holes) plot, it’s got lots of laughs.

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