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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Adrenaline Drive (review)

A fender bender with a gangster. An explosion at the local yakuza HQ. A suitcase full of dirty — and bloody — money. This is the kind of day it has been for timid rental-car clerk Satoru Suzuki (Masanobu Ando). Throw in a meek nurse, Shizuko Sato (Japanese TV star Hikari Ishida), and you’ve got the makings of a sweet and clever little comedy. It’s mostly nothing we haven’t seen before, but director Shinobu Yaguchi keeps the action rolling and the audience chuckling as the pair, one step ahead of the yakuza (Yutaka Matushige), hit the road, fall in and out of love, and have a ball spending the mob money. Ando and Ishida are delightfully charming as the shyest lovers you’re likely to see outside a Merchant-Ivory flick, and the performance comedy group Jovi Jova have a Three Stooges kind of slapstick grace to their ensemble work as the yakuza thugs who stumble around in the couple’s wake, attempting to steal back the stolen dough. “We’re fine as long as we don’t mess up,” Shizuko reassures Satoru of their plan to keep the money, which is almost precisely what Bridget Fonda told Bill Paxton in A Simple Plan, though things resolve themselves here in a decidedly more enchanting manner. And you haven’t seen laundered money till you’ve seen Shizuko and Satoru’s take on it.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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