Reviewed by Shelly Kraicer at the 1995 Toronto International Film Festival
A brilliantly comic Japanese murder mystery, with a mixed Japanese-Taiwanese cast. This one is difficult to describe. Haida (Juro Kara, who also wrote the screenplay) is a famous private-eye pulled out of semi-retirement at a drug-rehab centre to find Mariko, a missing student. As he pursues her trail in Taiwan, things begin to blur. He's a bit of a clown, with a fabulous ability to survive repeated drownings, shootings, and burial alive. His assistant, Ying Hung (Tang Na), seems to know more about the missing woman than she should. The mood of the film, at first puzzling and amusing, has the feel of a Thomas Pynchon novel: is "Mariko" really dead? Is she really "Mariko"? Is the mysterious Sakatani trying to help Haida, or to kill him? Whom is Haida chasing, and why? Director Hayashi takes us on a wild Tilt-a-Whirl ride: it's a giddy thrill to lose our bearings and emerge somewhere new. Dazzling cinematography, smart script, fine score.
(help: can anyone tell me why the actress Tang Na looks so familiar?)
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