This is a gem of touching cinema. Despite the English translation of the title- Accidental Kidnapper' this is far from being a slapstick movie. Which is not to say that there is not plenty of comedy but it is the clever balance between drama and humor that sustains the story and allows for the character interaction to truly shine.
It is precisely the relationship between the main characters forms the core around which the movie builds itself as a charming tale of human bonds. This can only be achieved through topnotch acting and in this area the child actor needs be praised for his effortless interpretation of a lively little boy that does not veer into cliché. The duo of child and dispirited man turned kidnapper is not precisely a novel combination but it is tackled with fresh sensibility. The changes that these two undergo, and the repercussions on the boy's family, are gradual enough so not to seem forced. Both kidnapper and child grow closer throughout their adventure that is spiced with plenty of yakuza antics.
The secret to the success of this movie is the subtle approach to the formula. There are genuinely heart warming moments and breakthrough scenes of emotional important but these are played in an understated manner that works remarkably well. From the Kurosawa tribute in the 'High and Low'-like ransom delivery to the interludes of semi surrealism everything flows perfectly so that 'Accidental Kidnapper' does not so much switch gears from light hearted to serious as it flows between these two poles with seamless ease.
It is interesting to contrast how the same basic premise can be handled so differently: in terms the guiding plot lines this movie is very much like 'Sympathy for Mister Vengeance' and yet they could not possibly be more diametrically opposed. 'Accidental Kidnapper' stands on its own merits as a tale of redemption and of human bonds.
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