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Minbo no onna (1992)

 -  Comedy  -  19 October 1994 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 492 users  
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A grand old Japanese hotel is trying to get a prestigious contract as the site of a summit meeting of important foreign officials. Unfortunately, this hotel is quite popular with the Yakuza... See full summary »

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Title: Minbo no onna (1992)

Minbo no onna (1992) on IMDb 7.5/10

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5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nobuko Miyamoto ...
Mahiru Inoue
Yasuo Daichi ...
Suzuki the accountant
Takehiro Murata ...
Wakasugi (the bellboy)
Akira Takarada ...
Kobayashi
Hôsei Komatsu ...
Hanaoka
Noboru Mitani ...
Gang boss
Hideji Ôtaki ...
Hotel owner
Tetsu Watanabe ...
Akechi
Akira Nakao ...
Ibagi
Shirô Itô ...
Iriuchijima
Mirei Asaoka ...
Akemi
Kitarô ...
Odokasareru otoko
Teruo Shimizu ...
Big Boss's Henchman
Shô Ryûzanji ...
Yakuza in lobby
Masahiko Urano ...
Gard man
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Storyline

A grand old Japanese hotel is trying to get a prestigious contract as the site of a summit meeting of important foreign officials. Unfortunately, this hotel is quite popular with the Yakuza (Japanese gangsters) and is a favorite target of theirs for extortion. They employ a variety of schemes to con the hotel out of 'hush-money.' The hotel needs to rid itself of the Yakuza and finally begins to fight back by hiring Mahiru Inoue, a lawyer who is an expert at dealing with these criminals on their own terms. This film by Juzo Itami combines action with farce, as an all-out war ensues. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

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yakuza

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Comedy

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19 October 1994 (USA)  »

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Minbo no onna  »

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1.85 : 1
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Trivia

In 1992, Itami was attacked, beaten, and slashed by five members of the Goto-gumi, a Tokyo yakuza gang, who were angry at his portrayal of yakuza as bullies and thugs in this film. This attack led to a government crackdown on the yakuza. His subsequent stay in a hospital inspired his next film Daibyonin. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not Itami's best, but definitely worth a place in his oeuvre
26 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

The rumours go that the Japanese director Juzo Itami was attacked by the Yakuza due to the realistic and disrespectful portrayal of them in his 1992 comedy "The Anti-Extortion Woman" or more commonly known as "Minbo". Realistic? I can't say for sure. But was it disrespectful? Absolutely. Itami crafted a niche for himself in the early 80s and late 90s with off-kilter comic gems that reveled in their absurdity and dealt with unusual subject matter, starting with his hit, "Tampopo". This feature definitely extends that offbeat sense of humour coupled with his darkly tailored undercurrent of social criticism in a simple plot that unfortunately is neither biting nor potent enough to warrant its lengthy runtime and exaggerated mode.

Minbo according to the attorney Mahiru Inoue (Nobuko Miyamoto) is slang, a truncated term for something that lawyers understand as the gentle art of extortion used by the Yakuza. She's somewhat of an expert in these matters as we see in a promising first scene at the poolside in Hotel Europa, a first-rate hotel competing for the attention of foreign delegates. However, the hotel's reputation is tarnished with the continued presence of the different Yakuza families who use the grounds as either meeting/exchange places, lounging areas or even to cheat the hoteliers out of some yen. The boardroom decides on taking action by assembling an Anti-Yakuza force from within but only manages a schmuck accountant and a meathead bellboy, both with plenty to learn about the world they live in. After an inspired introduction to both of them, the film gets down to the nitty-gritty of them failing to get rid of these foul-mouthed, shrewd gangsters. Well, this movie isn't called "The Anti-Extortion Woman" for nothing. And after about a dubious quarter of the film, we finally get to be truly acquainted with Miss Inoue, which really puts the opening scene's purpose into perspective.

She's here for a reason and that's to help the hotel and in the process teach these men a thing or two about being men. The film is strongly attuned to its titular character with her presence alone driving the film forward in terms of its comedy and plot. She faces up to overly confident mob bosses and talks them down to the hilt with her legal expertise and well-prepared plans that rely on surveillance and the need to be vigil in the face of overwhelming threats. It's novelty wears thin after awhile though, when she uses the same strategies over and over again with the new gangsters that show up. However, it can't be understated that the film's bulk of coherence lies with these scenes as she mentors the hotel into self-defending itself against these thugs.

Nobuko Miyamoto, Itami's wife is often cast in his films in a variety of roles. Her role as Inoue is by far the strongest in the cast that is usually prone to overacting and embarrassingly over-the-top theatrics that can actually be described as vaudevillian. She brings a deep sympathy and caring into her role as a confident but never hubristic seasoned attorney that specialises in Minbo. She never talks down to the dolts in the casts and is believable in her persuasiveness with the Yakuza and Itami wisely revolves an inert comedy around her pint-sized figure being surrounded by pompous, large men that inevitably fall to her knees. She even changes a massive shift in tone by coming up strong in an uneven denouement at the end, finally wising up everyone else to the virtues of being strong even in the face of hardship.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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