Starring: Akira Kamiya, Kazue Ikura, Marie Iitoyo
Director: Kenji Kodama
Running Time: 93 mins
City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes is a Japanese film about a pair of prolific private eyes who are tasked with acting as bodyguards for a young woman whose influential father was killed in a car accident. While investigating the situation, they find that there are signs to suggest that there are sinister forces at play in Shinjuku.
So, apparently this movie is a big-screen edition of a manga which also has a live-action TV show and also a thousand separate versions all across East Asia. I have not seen, read or heard of any of the previous versions of City Hunter, but what I can tell you is that this movie, Shinjuku Private Eyes, is a total mess. Ridiculous, basic and convoluted, it’s all over the place from start to finish, and yet there’s a chaotic energy to it all that somehow makes it partly entertaining at the same time.
First things first, it’s pretty clear to me that if you’ve never come across any City Hunter property before (like me), then you’ll be fine going into this movie blind. Why? Well, the reality is that it’s such a simple and light-hearted movie that there’s not all that much to get to grips with, and while some of the characters’ actions and tendencies may take a little bit of getting used to, at its core, the movie is a very basic crime/action thriller, the sort which you’ve certainly seen before.
Now, while I did have a surprising bit of fun at times with this movie, I can’t ignore the fact that it is a total mess of a film. A poorly edited and paced version of a manga pasted onto the big screen, the film really struggles to pick up pace early on with its tendency towards comic book-esque vignettes and episodes, never tying one story together to set you up for the rest of the movie.
Combine that with the fact that the story is wafer-thin throughout, and is largely used as an excuse to get the lead characters into random/exciting/awkward situations, and you have a film that doesn’t make the least bit of sense throughout, and is far more intent on poking you with ridiculous and often moronic comedy the whole way through.
That comedy is pretty much the make-or-break factor for City Hunter. Its story is a mess, but with good humour, anything can be entertaining. In reality, though, the comedy isn’t particularly impressive either, and while there are laughs about, and a light-hearted, fun-loving atmosphere that means the idiocy of the humour doesn’t get on your nerves, it’s generally very basic, and very, very stupid.
Whether it be the random and totally inexplicable appearance of robots, the slightly annoying will-they-won’t-they back and forth between two of the leads, and the bizarre tendency of the male lead to chase after and attempt to spy on/ogle at every pretty girl he sees, this isn’t a masterpiece of comedy by any means, and the only reason you’ll likely find yourself laughing is at just how insane and over-the-top everything is.
With that said, there is something undeniably enjoyable about the sheer chaos of City Hunter. Its out-of-control and totally incoherent story make for some truly ridiculous scenarios, while the comedy is so stupid that there are times where you can’t help but laugh. Nothing makes sense, and the movie doesn’t seem to care, but the fact that it keeps ploughing on with such insane energy actually makes it a moderately enjoyable, albeit far from impressive watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.3 overall