Now here is an interesting film. Years before, Jean Reno’s character had a Japanese girlfriend that left him for no obvious reason and as a result, hasn’t been able to love since. Before you think this is some sappy love story about self discovery, let me stop you right there. Wasabi isn’t a film you see to make you think, it’s quite the opposite…no thinking, just fast paced action with some light comedy mixed in for good measure. He travels from France to Japan to witness the reading of her will after he gets word of her passing, but finds out they had a daughter together. Not only that, but the woman has also left a mystery behind not only in why she left him in the first place, but why now the Yakuza is after the daughter.
The action is pretty steady throughout, and is more of the comic book variety, like what you might see in a Jackie Chan film. Luc Besson made Wasabi in French but had the Japanese film market in mind. So, French actor Jean Reno is called in, who is very popular in Japan while Japanese popular actress Ryoko Hiroshue is cast as Yumi as his daughter. The film is mostly shot in Japan and much of the film is spent with Hubert and Yumi getting to know one another, as they uncover secrets about her mother’s past.
I liked this move a lot as a passing diversion. No profound meaning, but it sure looks great and the action rarely lets up for more than a few minutes. And there’s plenty of sly wit to season the mayhem. Style, culture clash, humor, and fast paced action are what make this work, as well as some fine performances. Also, it should go without saying, but it’s better to watch with the subtitles, with the original actors’ voices.
Yet, typical of a French film, this movie doesn’t try to be artistic; it doesn’t try to be something it’s not and in that it excels. Bottom line, this is a sweet fun movie, plenty of action, humor and entertains divinely. The movie also has a wonderful soundtrack, although it is not available here in the states, but definitely worth going to the trouble to get. Ultimately, Wasabi serves as the foundation for a cinematic experience that is neither remarkable or common. Don’t expect any twisting, noir and all-french action-plot: just pretend you are reading a colorful comic book with plenty of no-brainer action. In the end you’ll be glad you watched this film.