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Fernando Di Leo
One of the Japanese Shinkansen "Bullet Trains" is threatened with a bomb that will explode automatically if the train slows below 80 km/h, unless a ransom is paid. Police race to find the bombers and to learn how to defuse the bomb.Written by
And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the TRAIN
Now here's a brief little plot description I'm sure will sound familiar to most people! Terrorists plant a bomb somewhere on a crowded public transportation vehicle. The device activates itself once the vehicle reaches a certain speed and will explode if the vehicle lowers its speed beneath this mark. The authorities as well as the driver are aware of the danger, but a ransom needs to be paid before the terrorists gives the exact location of the bomb. Now where have I heard that before? Hey wait a minute, it's that movie "Speed" with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock! Well sure, 99% of the world will be able to guess that, but sadly only a miserable 1% (or even less) know that "Speed" is, in fact, some sort of remake of this modestly produced but hugely exhilarating Japanese 70's disaster flick. Here in this case, the public transportation vehicle is an elite high-speed express train instead of a bus, so there are even more possibilities to hide the explosives. There are two versions of "Bullet Train" available, albeit both of them are quite obscure, but they're a world of difference. The international version is barely 90 minutes long and pretty much cuts all the background and intrigues surrounding the act of terrorism. The Japanese version runs slightly over 150 minutes and is the complete opposite! In this extended version you get to know literally everything about the terrorists, including how they got acquainted and even what they prefer to have for lunch. I'm usually quite allergic to long (2+ hours) movies, but I read that the heavily cut version comes across as incoherent and clumsy, and also that it doesn't feature the social criticism and melodrama. This may very well be true, but the 150 minutes slightly exaggerates with illustrating background stories and dramatic subplots. At numerous times during the film, it even felts like the booby trapped train was merely an unimportant sub plot while the real movie revolved on the life story of main terrorist Tetsuo Okita. Still, it's a compelling and at times adrenalin-rushing adventure with a solid script and terrific performances. Ken Takakura excels as the embittered terrorist and martial arts legend Sonny Chiba is very impressive in the for him very unusual role of ordinary machinist. One thing about "Bullet Train" I will surely NEVER forget for as long as I live is how this movie features the single most worst case of bad luck ever! After he received the ransom, the terrorists reveals that he left a bag in a restaurant. In the bag there's a map with a detailed drawing of where exactly in the train the bomb is located. The authorities rush to the restaurant, but notice upon arrival that the place just burned to the ground due to a short circuit! What are the odds of that happening?
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