Archive for October 22nd, 2012

A police van carrying prisoners is targeted by a sniper one night. Several prison guards and prisoners die as a result of the attack. The one remaining prison guard Tamon who survived is made a scapegoat and suspended for 6 months but he merely shrugs this off as a long holiday. Tamon isn’t going to let the incident pass by as certain things that occurred during the attack has bothered him such as a name of a person one of the prisoners Goro wrote on the police van windows and an appearance before the attack of a mysterious woman. With these little clues to aid him, Tamon sets out to investigate what went on that night but he may have bitten off more than he can chew as the criminal underworld is determined not to let him interfere in their plans.

With it’s roots set firmly in the Hollywood film noir genre of the 50’s, this fast paced mystery movie which only runs for 79 mins packs in a lot with an engaging but slightly confusing plot (probably deliberately made this way by director Seijun Suzuki), great action sequences, shootouts and some cool characters. It doesn’t waste any time in putting the viewer straight into the heart of the action with the attack on the police van. The story is one that will keep you guessing right until the climax at the train station as to who is behind the attack. All the ingredients you’d associate with a film noir movie is in this movie although I’d say this is perhaps just a tad more gritty because the plot involves prostitution and there’s even a shot of a woman’s breasts. The hero Tamon has to endure several attempts on his life by those that are trying to put him off their scent and it includes a fantastic scene in which he and a woman are tied up inside a tanker truck which is freewheeling on a road with the fuel in the back having been released by the bad guys and set alight. The tension mounts as both try to escape before the flames behind them catches up and makes the tanker explode. This is only one of several fantastic action scenes which takes place. The cinematography is top notch with great use of light and shadow to create the dark mood of the movie and there are some nice visual effects such as looking from the sniper’s point of view of some road signs before the initial attack. Michitaro Mizushima is excellent as Tamon – a hero to root for and who can use his fists to good effect against some seedy characters when he needs to. He goes against the usual characteristics of a film noir protaganist at one point when he explains to a female character that there is good in everybody and that the villains just haven’t awakened that side yet. It just seemed a little out of place in a film noir.

Seijun Suzuki would go on to direct bigger and better movies in the years to come (Branded To Kill and Fighting Elegy for instance) and whilst Take Aim At The Police Van is certainly no masterpiece, it is still an entertaining and exciting movie which is well worth seeing. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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