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Sort of like a reincarnation of Mike Hama--but a bit better
A decade before, Masatoshi Nagase starred in three 'Mike Hama' (or 'Mike Hammer') detective films as well as a spin-off TV series. I've seen all the films and felt very conflicted about them. On one hand, they had a neat quirkiness but on the other, they lost the quirkiness as each film progressed and they became dark and bloody--for me an inexplicable combination. Here in "Mike Yokohama: A Forest With No Name", Nagase is back and his character is very, very similar to Mike Hama. Sure, he's missing his old Nash Metropolitan auto and a bit of the quirkiness is also missing. But, on the positive side for me, the plot is less grisly than the Hama films and I liked the finished product--even if the ending was very vague (which will no doubt irritate some).
Like the Hama films, it begins with him being broke and owing a lot of bills--particularly to a local mobster. But he sees a chance to get ahead when a rich guy inexplicably comes to lowly Mike Yokohama for help. It seems that the rich man's daughter has fallen in with some weird cult-like organization. Mike goes undercover by entering this same spiritual retreat and finds that it's a bit hard to describe. While it is non-religious and no obvious thought-control is exerted on the residents, everyone there acts bizarre--like it IS a cult. And Mike obviously does not fit in with the program. However, as the film progresses, the viewer is sucked into the mystery--and it ends with a confusing finale that will no doubt leave the viewer confused and questioning the meaning of it all. I liked this but as I said above, some might feel irritated by this uncertainly. I did like the story and appreciated that the mystery and not gore were front and center--making for me, a much better sort of film than the earlier ones.
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