THE STORY: An escort is killed in a car accident in an alley behind Japan’s Neustria embassy and Prosecutor Kohei Kuryu (Takuya Kimura) and his paralegal assistant Chika Asagi (Keiko Kitagawa) are assigned to the seemingly straightforward case. However, there’s more to this case than meets the eye. Hindered by the regulations of diplomatic immunity and extraterritoriality, the death also attracts the attention of Maiko Amamiya (Takako Matsu), Kuryu’s former assistant and through solving the case, brings closure to their relationship.
HERO 2015 opens with a beautifully shot scene of what seems to be a straightforward hit and run case. Dramatic and cinematic, it seemed as though it would set the mood and style for the rest of the movie, alas, it did not. The first 10 minutes of HERO 2015 are very well executed, but the rest of the film appears to have been shot as an extended television movie.
It is a decently told story (for a J-drama movie), with well placed moments of exposition, comedic moments, pregnant poses and typical Japanese over-reaction. However, for a crime drama, it is lacking in the action scenes. The dialogue is simple and plain, with a lack of sharp wit common in most legal dramas.
Expect a lot of tropes and plot conveniences; this is no action-thriller detective movie. There are no surprise twists, with the criminal’s intent revealed unsubtly early in the movie but the movie is more than its superficial plot. The real purpose of HERO 2015 is to bring closure to the relationship (or lack there of) between the two leads.
Starting off as a ridiculously popular J-Drama, HERO would eventually spawn two television series, a TV special and two movies (to date). It’s mostly thanks to leading man Takuya Kimura, or TakuKimu as he is affectionately referred to by fans. Clearly the biggest draw for fans, the SMAP member does not disappoint in the revival of his role as the daring, intuitive Kohei Kuryu.
The movie sees the return of the main cast from the second season, as well as Takako Matsu as Kuryu’s old flame Maiko Amamiya. Now a prosecutor in her own right, Amamiya finds herself caught in limbo when her case crosses paths with Kuryu’s. Matsu does a good job as the conflicted Amamiya who serves as an inspiration for Kyryu’s “new” aid, Chika Asagi, played by Keiko Kitagawa (who also played Sailor Mars in the live action Sailor Moon series.)
The two share amicable screen time, with kōhai (後輩, junior) and senpai (先輩, senior) bonding over the grief of being Kuryu’s assistant.
Together with Yō Yoshida’s Reiko Baba, the trio are a good example of girl power. As characters the they are intelligent, hard working and self-sufficient. There are no damsels in distress that need to be rescued in this film.
The other characters play a strong support role in a subtle manner. They are quirky, fiercely loyal and tenacious in their belief in justice. They work well as a team, their actions complementing each other as they go about investigating different aspects of the “traffic incident”. They may actually be more enjoyable to watch than you expect.
HERO 2015 is meant to appeal to a very specific audience – mainly fans – and not the casual viewer. This movie is definitely best enjoyed by someone who has seen the series before as it uses many references to the show. Watch it for the humour, character interaction and creative take on “crossing borders”.
We give this one 3 WA out of 5.
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Check out the trailer below:
Photos supplied by Encore Films.