• Shin Kanashiki Hittoman / Another Lonely Hitman (1995) - The odyssey in between is more important than the beginning or the end - 8/10 (12/01/14)

    Another Lonely Hitman (1995)


    "Another Lonely Hit-Man" is an impressive gangster movie that is somewhat different from the brutal mobster flicks of the seventies and the lengthy epics of the current second wave. This transitional movie between the two waves differs and that's what makes this film so unique. Created by former adult movie director Rokuro Mochizuki and featuring later star actor Ryo Ishibashi ("Audition" (1999), "The Grudge" (2004), "Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney" (2012)) as well as future star director Miike Takashi ("Ichi The Killer" (2001), "Gozu" (2003), "13 Assassins" (2010)) in a cameo, this surprising hit has become some sort of an iconic cult movie among connoisseurs while it never gained the international success it would have deserved.

    Instead of giving us complex insights into different mafia families, this film follows the fate of the loyal hit-man Tachibana Takashi. Accompanied by his young daughter and under the influence of a heroin shot to feel more courageous, Tachibana kills a gangster boss in a restaurant before he gives himself in to the police and spends his next ten years in prison. When he gets out, his Yakuza family is the only thing he has left as former friends and family members turned their back on him. Haunted by the demons of his past and feelings of guilt, he meets other loners in an evolved world he fails to understand and accept. He crosses paths with a heroin addicted prostitute and a young gangster who openly admires him. Despite the fact that his Yakuza family offers him some money as well as a hotel room and a night with a prostitute, the hit-man can't identify with the family values anymore. His Yakuza clan doesn't follow its initial code of honour anymore and cares more about business contracts than moral values. What disturbs the hit-man most is how drug dealers have infiltrated the Yakuza. Tensions between him and his superiors arise and his new partner and him are soon isolated. Tachibana must take a crucial decision to give his wasted life a second chance and save those he feels responsible for. 

    "Another Lonely Hit-man" is a slow-paced character portrait and neo film noir that works a lot with cold camera angles, light effects, music samples and especially symbolism. The systematic chaos of urban infrastructures, the spartan designs and even ironically abandoned looking amusement parks are all symbols for the confusion, guilt and loneliness the hit-man feels. At the same time, he starts to fight his fate by becoming a better person. Even though many scenes look brutal and cold, the movie also has a few emotional and positive moments in comparison to many other genre flicks. This movie really has a message and a soul. 

    The philosophy behind this movie is not only carried by a great directorship but also by a truly authentic and unique acting by all involved actors. This is really an important element because you care about the characters as they have a beautiful side hidden underneath all their obvious ugliness. This movie perfectly shows us that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

    Hollywood movie fans might feel irritated about the movie's slow pace but I adore the fact that this film really takes all the time it needs to tell us a story and develop the different characters without getting redundant or epic. The key elements of this movie are simple but effective because they are so authentic. This movie could easily be based on a true story. 

    The slow paced film is interrupted by some more vivid elements. These scenes include the surreal opening killing scene, the physical encounters between the main character and a rude pimp, an arrogant racketeers and a cheap drug dealer or the almost bipolar reactions by the prostitute to her imposed drug rehab. The cold realism of the movie is underlined by scenes where we see characters barfing, bleeding, crying, having sex, laughing, peeing, puking, swearing and more. These elements feel direct but never obscene or out-of-place and give the film an almost documentary touch.

    My favourite part of the movie is though the last twenty minutes or so which feels like a road trip through the hit man's past and future. This last quarter of the movie was really touching. The fact that the ending is a little bit predictable is no big deal because this film is not an action movie or a simple thriller but a drama. The beginning and the end are less important than the odyssey in between them. 


    Open-minded fans of Japanese cinema and Yakuza flicks or those who like the drama and film noir genres in general can't get around this movie that has become a righteous classic over the past two decades. Those who are expecting an explosive gangster epic must look elsewhere.

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