"A Father’s Love"
In WASABI, Hubert’s unorthodox police methods gain him a forced two-month leave of absence -- just enough time to solve a mystery involving an old flame, her mysterious daughter, and a large fortune. With surprisingly few objectionable elements, a clever story and some incredible acting, WASABI is an intriguing and heart-rending foreign film.
WASABI, like the spicy Japanese condiment for which it’s named, surprises the viewer. On one level, it is the traditional French version of the American cops and robbers movie, with lots of Clint Eastwood-type references. On another level, it is a delightful story about a father discovering his daughter and finding out what makes life worth living.
The movie opens in a blaring French disco with French policeman Hubert Fiorentini (Jean Reno) ruthlessly punching out a woman on the dance floor. Back at headquarters, the woman turns out to be a man who is part of a gang of cross-dressing men who’ve been robbing banks. Hubert is interrogated by his superior because of his unorthodox, but effective method of solving crimes. He is asked what happened in the nightclub and replies that he was forced to hit the cross-dressing man when the man resisted arrest. When asked if anything else happened, Hubert does recall hitting another man who tried to stop him, and in fact, several others as well…including the police chief’s son.
Clearly, Hubert has a problem with anger management. He is told to take two months off, find a girlfriend and apologize to the police chief’s son. It becomes quite clear that he is still mourning his separation from his true love, a Japanese woman named Miko, whom he met when he was an international spy. He has been mourning her for nineteen years. When people misstate the number of years they have been separated, he corrects them precisely. Clearly, he is counting every day.
When he goes to apologize to the police chief’s son, he leaves flowers in a precarious position. Unfortunately, the police chief’s son ends up in more traction than the beginning.
At home, he gets a call to come immediately to Japan. Miko has died, and she appointed him as the trustee for her estate.
When he gets to Japan, he finds out that he has a daughter, Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue), and that Miko left the daughter $200 million in a bank account. Yumi hates Hubert for leaving her mother. He cannot prove that her mother left him.
The Yakusa, or Japanese mafia, want the $200 million. His French friend, Momo (short for Maurice), who is still a spy, helps him find out that Miko was infiltrating the Yakusa, and she gave up her life and her love for her country. Now, Hubert, with a recalcitrant daughter, Yumi, has to solve the crime before the Yakusa kill Yumi to get the money.
WASABI has some brilliant moments that will make you laugh and cry. The Japanese actress who plays Yumi is superb. Jean Reno is a taciturn French version of Clint Eastwood and sometimes appears a little too old for all these shenanigans, but he does a wonderful job.
Like many of Luke Besson’s movies, there are some loose threads. Action often triumphs over story, although the movie is not the disaster of MESSENGER, THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC, but neither is it the controlled tension of NIKITA.
Surprisingly, there is no profanity in this film, and not many obscenities. The fight scenes are more action-oriented than bloody, and many of them are very cleverly staged.
Except for the cross-dressing gang and one kick to the groin, there are very few offensive elements.
There are heartwarming elements though, especially in the newfound relationship between Huber and his daughter. Their relationship is truly believable and tugs at the heartstrings, even in the midst of an improbable plot.
In all, WASABI is a funny, droll, heartrending condiment.
(Pa, Fr, B, L, V, A, M) Eclectic worldview with very mild Shinto scenes and strong moral theme; 13 obscenities with some scatological activity; intense violence including frequent punches, teeth knocked out, kick in groin, many point blank shootings, explosions…some of which is humorous and most of the violence has very little bloodshed; cross-dressing and sexual references; alcohol use; smoking and drug use; and, lying, deception, and double dealing.
Hubert Fiorentini has a problem with anger. Because of his violent, unorthodox police methods, he is told to take two months off, find a girlfriend, and apologize to the police chief’s son, whom he punched. In fact, he is still mourning his separation from his true love, a Japanese woman named Miko, whom he met when he was an international spy.
He soon finds out that Miko has died, that he is the trustee for her estate and the father of her daughter, Yumi. Miko has left the daughter $200 million in a bank account, and the Japanese mafia, or Yakusa, wants it. He finds out that Miko was infiltrating the Yakusa, and she gave up both her life and her love to serve her country. Hubert must solve the crime before the Yakusa kill Yumi and get the money.
The fight scenes are more action-oriented than bloody, and except for the cross-dressing gang in the beginning, there are very few offensive elements in WASABI. The newfound relationship between Huber and his daughter tugs at the heartstrings, even in the midst of an improbable plot. In all, WASABI is a funny, droll, heartrending condiment