Following the events of The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, the implausibly prolific Japanese madman Takashi Miike delivers a second helping of yakuza infiltration insanity. It’s not really a handicap if you’ve not seen the first film, as the pertinent details are recounted in a lightning burst of prologue exposition, leading up to how our gormless hero Reiji opens the film dangling naked from a cage full of large sweaty men in towels being airlifted by helicopter across Tokyo. This also efficiently sets the tone for much of the rest of the film.
Despite being told he would be pulled out upon completion of his previous mission, Hong Kong Capriccio sees Reiji instead sent deeper into the yakuza underworld to take down a syndicate overlord. However, his mission becomes hampered by such handicaps as his own general incompetence, his inability to keep a thought in his head for more than a few seconds, his priapic reaction to virtually every women who crosses his path, and the voracious desires of his new employer’s daughter, who initially presents herself with the stereotypically demure shyness of a young Japanese woman, but soon reveals herself to be a bratty princess who wants Reiji as her personal boy toy.
The anarchy driving the film is highly entertaining to begin with, with numerous styles thrown indiscriminately at the screen, including the likes of dream sequences, animation, manga-esque thought panels, and impromptu musical numbers. A few of many running jokes include some quite literal toilet humour involving a filthy plunger used as an impromptu weapon of suffocation, and a comedic sound effect every time Reiji gets an erection that puts you in mind of our own Martin Unsworth’s ‘pink flute’ radio show running joke.
However, after a while the pace begins to falter as the relentless chaos slows the development of what little plot there actually is, a recurrence of the tendency for Miike’s films to run about twenty minutes longer than necessary, with their overdose of general madness occasionally resulting in the loss of focus of telling an actual story.
In spite of this, what could still have been a joyfully demented thrill ride is severely hampered by a severe undercurrent of misogyny that runs through most of the film. You can dress it up in all the histrionics you like, but with a plot ultimately revolving around a human trafficking auction where beautiful women are to be sold as slaves to sleazy rich men, while the nominal female lead spends half the film under the constant threat of vengeance-inspired sexual assault, it leaves a very uncomfortable feeling when the whole situation is played for laughs.
The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio is a decent enough follow up and delivers everything we’ve come to expect of Miike, but pacing issues and unabashed sexism result in a film that unfortunately isn’t quite as much fun as it could have been.
THE MOLE SONG: HONG KONG CAPRICCIO / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR: TAKASHI MIIKE / SCREENPLAY: KANKURÔ KUDÔ / STARRING: TÔMA IKUTA, SHIN'ICHI TSUTSUMI, TSUBASA HONDA, NANAO, ARATA FURUTA / RELEASE DATE: TBA
Expected Rating: 8/10