Wasabi

This inconsequential action picture, which suggests THE PROFESSIONAL (1994) played for laughs, zips along like a hyperactive video game and adds up to absolutely nothing. But Jean Reno's grizzled toughness and Riyoko Hirosue's kawaii charm are a winning combination. French cop Hubert Fiorentini (Reno) is persona non grata at the station house, thanks to...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This inconsequential action picture, which suggests THE PROFESSIONAL (1994) played for laughs, zips along like a hyperactive video game and adds up to absolutely nothing. But Jean Reno's grizzled toughness and Riyoko Hirosue's kawaii charm are a winning combination. French cop Hubert Fiorentini (Reno) is persona non grata at the station house, thanks to his Dirty Harry antics while apprehending a gang of cross-dressing bank robbers — and it doesn't help that he punched out the police chief's snotty son in the process. Hubert's boss suggests some time off, and it's not really a suggestion. This edict coincides with Hubert's receipt of a letter from a lawyer in Japan, informing him that Miko Yoshimido (Yuki Sakai), the love of a lifetime he met while doing foreign intelligence work, has died. Surprisingly, given that Miko abruptly abandoned him 19 years ago, she named Hubert executor of her estate. Once in Tokyo, another surprise awaits: Hubert has a daughter, the defiant and utterly cute, 19-year-old Yumi (Hirosue). Hubert is to act as Yumi's guardian until her 20th birthday, only a few days away, at which point she'll inherit her mother's estate. He'd like to establish a parental relationship with his newfound daughter, but Yumi believes her long-lost father was a brute who raped Miko and vanished, so Hubert opts to keep his paternity to himself. He also begins to suspect Miko was murdered, a suspicion reinforced by the discovery of an unexplained $200 million in Yumi's bank account. With the help of his old intelligence buddy Momo (Michel Muller), a sad-sack comic sidekick straight out of central casting, Hubert investigates Miko's demise, fights off hoards of implacable yakuza foot soldiers and goes shopping with the irrepressible Yumi, whose insatiable appetite for 8-inch platform shoes will be denied. Screenwriter Luc Besson will always choose action over such petty matters as character motivation and story logic: You can see why he wrote the scene in which Hubert awes Momo by calmly swallowing spoonsful of scorchingly hot wasabi mustard — it's a great visual. But to have Hubert then ask Momo what this yummy stuff is called makes no sense — Hubert worked in Japan and loves all things Japanese; how could he not be familiar with wasabi? Longtime Besson associate Gerard Krawczyk's film is driven by sheer enthusiam (much of it for the worst excesses of Hollywood filmmaking), which makes it fun to watch in spite of its fundamental ridiculousness. But it's as fluffy and disposible as Yumi's trendy purchases.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This inconsequential action picture, which suggests THE PROFESSIONAL (1994) played for laughs, zips along like a hyperactive video game and adds up to absolutely nothing. But Jean Reno's grizzled toughness and Riyoko Hirosue's kawaii charm are a winning co… (more)

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