Crime drama with top star power


HERO 2015 (PG)

120 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ 3/5 STARS

THE STORY: A socialite is killed in a car accident in an alley behind the Neustria embassy in Japan. Prosecutor Kohei Kuryu (Takuya Kimura) and his paralegal Chika Asagi (Keiko Kitagawa) are assigned to the seemingly straightforward case, but are hampered by the regulations of diplomatic immunity and extraterritoriality. The death also attracts the attention of Maiko Amamiya (Takako Matsu), Kuryu's former assistant and now a prosecutor in another district.

Hero 2015 is best enjoyed by those who are at least somewhat familiar with the other versions of this popular Japanese title.

It started as a highly rated television series in 2001, spawned a two-hour special in 2006, a film in 2007 and a second season last year. All of them star Kimura, who has managed to remain atop the Japanese entertainment industry since the mid-1990s, both as a member of the idol group Smap and as an actor.

Kuryu is someone who is extremely dogged in his pursuit of the truth and does not always play by the book.

Of course, this being a work of fiction, he dresses like a movie star, with stylish locks and an orange down jacket. It was also established in the first series that he was particularly susceptible to infomercials.

Little details such as these make their way into the movie, essentially for the fans.

The most important thing for fans, though, is without a doubt the reappearance of Amamiya.

Is there something more to the relationship between him and Amamiya? How much more? Complicating things is the presence of his new assistant, Asagi, who first appeared in the second series.

Kimura and Matsu undoubtedly have chemistry and were previously paired up in the classic romantic drama, Love Generation (1997).

Together, they generate sparks as well as laughs. The awkward conversation that results when they meet up for drinks with all their former colleagues is a hoot.

A pity then that the case itself is rather disappointing, especially considering that scriptwriter Yasuhi Fukuda was also responsible for the excellent murder mystery Suspect X (2008).

Mostly, the involvement of a fictitious foreign country is an opportunity for director Masayuki Suzuki (Hero, 2001) to make some blandly positive point about how even seemingly different cultures share common ground.

Regardless, the fans turned out for the film and made it No. 1 at the Japanese box office in its first two weekends in July. Which means that Kimura might not be hanging up his orange jacket just yet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Crime drama with top star power'. Print Edition | Subscribe