Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Ever start a new job and find out it’s not exactly what you signed up for? Kazuhiko (Minagawa Yoji) is an awkward, moody fellow who graduated from Japan’s most elite university but has never held down a proper job. He gets a cleaning gig at a sento (Japanese bathhouse), unaware it’s a front for hitman operations. His night duties: body disposal and cleaning up the crime scene before the morning crowd arrives. Shocked yet intrigued, Kazuhiko takes the dark side of his job in stride and bonds with his hitman co-workers. But he soon learns the hard way that killing for the mob harbours many occupational hazards.
Tanaka injects a droll tone into his unusual noir comedy-thriller. Deftly weaving yakuza threats, livelihood anxieties, and adult growing pains, the unpredictable yarn dryly escalates the dangers and eccentricities of Japan’s brutal work culture, for which the yakuza is just a parallel. Since garnering the Best Director Award for the Japanese section of the Tokyo Film Festival, the film has proven an international crowd-pleaser, travelling everywhere and winning numerous audiences award at festivals from Udine to New York.
Best Director (Japanese Cinema), Tokyo 18