Which leads us to Wasabi. Besson has reteamed with frequent collarobator Jean Reno for the seventh time, although this is their first effort together without Besson behind the camera. This time around, director Gerard Krawczyk (Taxi 2) calls the shots.
The story is rather simple: Reno plays Hubert, a French cop who must travel to Japan, when he learns he has been named as sole executor in the will of Miko, a former girlfriend from his days in French Intelligence who has recently died. Still pining for this woman to the point where he’d reject Carole Bouquet (still drop dead gorgeous at 47), Hubert is shocked to discover upon arriving in Tokyo that Miko’s nineteen year old daughter Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue), is his child. Yumi, like Hubert, was left totally in the dark about Miko’s past, and has a hatred for the unknown man who she believes sired her and walked away from his responsibilities.
Yeah, so where does the ass kicking come inr Right about now. You see, Miko wasn’t really what everyone thought she was. Hubert discovers this on a trip to the bank, to help set up a regular wire transfer for his daughter. Little do either of them know that Miko’s bank account has over two hundred million dollars American in it, and that there are some bad ass mothers on Yumi’s trail hot for the stash.
Rightfully billed here in the States by distributor Tri-Star Pictures as “Quite possibly the greatest French-language, English subtitled, Japanese action-comedy of all,” Wasabi is great fun. Jean Reno is the best undersung and underused action heroes on the planet. Like Toshiro Mifune, Hollywood doesn’t know how to use Reno properly. Like Mifune and Kurosawa, Reno and Besson are at their best when they work together. Hopefully, both of them will continue to work mainly in French cinema and build their native industry into something stronger for all. Young Miss Mirosue is a find. Charming, beautiful and winning as the not quite innocent daughter, she works wonders when she is onscreen. The third partner in this is Momo, a former compadre of Hubert’s who is still stationed in Tokyo. As played by Michel Muller, Momo is neither all that helpful or in the way of the story.
If you sometimes like to go to the movies to have fun, Wasabi is a good place to start. Unfortunately, Tri-Star isn’t much of a distributor anymore, an imprint used by Sony to burn off “minor” titles in theatres before going to video, so keep an eye out for it at your local video store soon. If they aren’t carrying the film, make sure you ask for it by name. You won’t be disappointed.
I give the film an A- for effort and an A for execution.