Review: Hold Up Down (2006)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

One of the most popular boy bands in Japan working with Sabu, one of the hottest directors: what could go wrong?

Thankfully, not much, as we see. Sabu’s talent makes a meal of what could have been a simple bank-heist-gone-wrong story, and the six members of V6 apply themselves with much energy and verve to characters that don’t tax their skills unduly. There’s car chases, almost compulsory in a Sabu film. There’s sudden unexpected lurve, that pops up at the least likely moment. There’s comedy in great big gobs, because Sabu is a master of the background in-joke and the foreground visual humour. And there’s a massive fight scene, in which all 5 standing V6-ers fight each other.

I say all 5 standing V6ers because poor Okada Junichi spends a lot of the film snap-frozen. Not only that, but since he’s a homeless, Christ-like hippy, he’s snap frozen in the wide-armed stance of benediction or crucifixion. And if you’re wondering how many Jesus gags you can get into one film, then your answer is here, if you dare to look. Sabu pays meticulous attention to the finest details of the visual aspects of scenes, which makes them delightfully sharp: you need to stay alert, though, or you’ll miss something.

Once again, as with Hard Luck Hero, Sabu pairs the boys off, although this time Okada and Morita Go are semi-solitary (given that they never get to speak to each other, what with Okada’s squid-scented freezing and all). And again, he doesn’t ask them to do anything that’s beyond their range. A couple of them, Morita and Sakamoto, demonstrate a potential to be pretty good actors given time.

One thing that fair made me dizzy was Morita. Not, I must point out, because of his pretty face, but because at times he looked the dead spitting image of that veteran character actor Terajima Susumu. In repose, the faces look nothing alike, but stick them in a car and make them talk and they’re almost twins. Bodes well for young Morita, because Terajima is one of the staple actors of Japanese cinema, turning up in every other movie and giving complex, detailed performances without breaking a sweat.

All in all, then, this is a fast-paced caper that keeps you on the edge of your seat, complete with all the car chases, visual comedy, and deftness of touch that marks Sabu as one of the hottest directors in Japan. And if you like looking at pretty young Japanese men, well, all your prayers will be answered.

8 inexplicable crates of frozen squid out of 10.
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