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The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio at EIFF: ‘a distasteful midnight movie’

I do admit, I hadn’t expected to preface a review of Takeshi Miike’s latest comedy adventure with a discussion of ethics – but here we are. What I want to ask you is whether or not you think any subject is acceptable for comedic treatment? Personally, I’ve always believed that to be the case – but, of course, many would disagree. This isn’t a think-piece, and proper discussions of these ideas can be found elsewhere, but whether or not you agree with me on this point may determine how much you enjoy The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio.

We follow Agent Reiji on from the original Mole Song. You don’t need to have seen that one (I hadn’t) to enjoy this: a lurid and sizeable prologue reveals all (quite literally), but the completely nonsensical nature of its plot means that following along is highly unnecessary. From what I could gather, it involves an undercover Reiji trying to win the respect of his Yakuza boss by smoking out a gang in Hong Kong known as the ‘Dragonskulls’. This is, as you can imagine, a pretty insane concept: one guy taking on a whole crime syndicate? Yet, somehow, the least straight forward part of this plan seems to be the Yakuza boss’s 19 year-old daughter – who, naturally, Reiji becomes obsessed with.

The movie is, almost constantly, a very funny affair. There’s a lot of slapstic and sight-gag type action, with violence involving toilet plungers and overenthusiastic punching accompanied by a wacky soundtrack. Nothing here really begs to be taken seriously: from unrealistic dialogue to the eclectic, grindhouse-esque colour scheme, Hong Kong Capriccio is nothing but fun.

As I mentioned to in the intro, a lot of the jokes regard distasteful behaviour (mostly sexual); although the context of the movie means that you’re unlikely to feel that the characters concerned are ever in any real peril or discomfort (Miike seems obsessed with artifice). What’s certain is that, in the midnight screening I attended, everyone was laughing at regular intervals, so perhaps the themes at heart weren’t as disquieting as I myself thought.

It’s also, somewhat surprisingly, a slick-looking piece of work. For a film that includes a scene in which the main character falls from a skyscraper in slow motion with a tiger biting his head, everything seems vaguely believable (in a visual sense) – and it’s clear that somebody has thrown vast amounts of money at this thing. Usually, with this sort of B-movie project, there’s a certain cheapness that permeates the entire affair – shoddy CGI and all that. But, with Hong Kong Capriccio, there’s no such problem: it looks almost as good as most studio features currently coming out of Hollywood.

All in all, Hong Kong Capriccio is a great midnight movie. It’s crazy, colourful, explicit, and very funny. If you’re up for the distasteful ride, then you’ll almost definitely have a great time: Miike fan or not.

8/10

 

Featured image: Variety.

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James Witherspoon

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