Magazine article Screen International

The Mole Song - Undercover Agent Reiji

Magazine article Screen International

The Mole Song - Undercover Agent Reiji

Article excerpt

Dir: Takaski Miike. Japan. 2013. 120mins

With over 90 films to his credit, the prodigiously prolific Takashi Miike may be slowing down at the ripe old age of 53. This is only his second feature this year, but his predilection for outrageously violent campy films inspired by manga stories remains intact. Based on yet another manga hit by Noboru Takahashi, which has already been published in 35 volumes and claims a readership of over 4 million, The Mole Song - Undercover Agent Reiji (Mogura no uta) is a comically absurd, farfetched story stars a hopelessly incompetent cop who is fired from the police only to be reinstated as a mole and commissioned to infiltrate the most powerful yakuza gang in the country to try and catch its leader.

For audiences of the right age (preferably adolescents, or adolescents at heart) and in the right frame of mind (preferably mischievous), this crazy riot of a film might look like a lot of fun, akin to watching animation or playing a video game.

Action packed to the gills, but strangely leaving no dead bodies around, the unlikely adventures of Reiji Kikukawa (Toma Ikuta) may very well draw hordes of followers at home and develop into a full-fledged film franchise - the ending suggests that much - but once they cross the international borders, the appeal will probably be limited only to Miike's most fanatic admirers.The film premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

Highly motivated but totally inept, Reiji graduates from the Police Academy with the lowest grades ever and goes on to make all the wrong moves, culminating in the attempted arrest of a city counsellor he caught harassing and molesting an underage adolescent girl. Kicked out of the force despite all his energetic protests, he is appeased only when he learns that he is due to become an undercover agent. He must pretend to become a member of a feared yakuza gang suspected of spreading a nefarious new drug called MDMA all over Japan, supplied in abundance by the Russian mafia.

Passing a countless number of tests, first instigated by the various law agencies to make sure he is fit for the job, and then by the yakuza, to ascertain he is not a traitor or informer, Rieji manages somehow - never try to make sense of anything that happens in this film - to reach the highest echelons of crime world, signs all kinds of brotherhood pacts with notorious criminals and to find himself involved in a gang war which only he could eventually stop. …

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