Government agent Akira Kobayashi is assigned to recover a stash of uncut gems and gold
"3 Seconds Before Explosion" provides much visual pleasure. The color stock used to make this film provides different hues than American color films. Combine that with the above-par art direction, production design, clothing, color combinations and staging, and this becomes an action film with style to spare. The complex plot becomes almost secondary.
The star is Akira Kobayashi who plays a government agent assigned to recover a cache of stolen uncut gems and gold bullion. He goes undercover to work with a gang trying to steal it from a corporation that possesses it at the moment. Another gang is out for it too. Kobayashi tangles with a former colleague of his, played by Hideki Takahashi. The latter's character is what is known as a good bad guy, a man who has reason to have gone over to a criminal side but who is not really evil and who can flip the other way again. These two actors are both agile and look the part of men trained to do top-notch physical exploits. Both actors project well on the screen. Kobayashi is very cool, Takahashi more emotional and hot-tempered.
The best action scene may be a rooftop chase, but there are also fights and gunfights. The weaponry ramps up toward the end and even includes a minefield. Several attractive women figure peripherally in the plot, but become victims of the violence.
Like many action movies, themes and depth are not part of the story. It's really about doing the job, locating the gems, encountering dangers and risks, and managing to overcome such problems as being shot at and being tied up and placed in a cell from which escape appears impossible. The implicit heroic themes are cleverness, courage, manly virtues and professional effectiveness. The bad guys represent the other side of the coin: excessive greed, wanton violence, lasciviousness and no respect for human life.
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