Pompously, this neonoir crime series set in Tokyo at the turn of the 1990s and the 2000s was announced as the great return of the legendary Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Insider, Ali, Collateral, Public Enemies) directed. Mann turned out to be “just” a producer and directed “just” the first episode of the series, which is reminiscent of the cult crime series of the eighties “Miami Vice” (Miami Vice), whose film remake was 2006 with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx directed by Michael Man! But “Tokyo Vice” has very little to do with “Miami Vice” and we follow the war of the Japanese criminal underworld and the clans of the Yakuza gangster organizations there.
The series is based on the memoirs of Jake Adelstein, the first American journalist to work as a reporter for the highest-circulation Japanese newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbunu. And as soon as the broadcast of the series was over, there was a debate about whether everything Edelstein experienced was really true or whether the gentleman had a pretty vivid imagination, but that’s not really important for this series. It was “Tokyo Vice” an extremely interesting neo-noir that brings us a perfect insight into the Japanese criminal underworld. Adelstein himself is also the main character, and he was embodied by the young American actor Ansel Elgort, who is also one of the executive producers of the series. The young Adelstein thus moved from his native Missouri to Tokyo in the late 1990s for his final years of study.
Along the way, this young man of Jewish descent changed his name from Josh to Jack, and decided to become an investigative journalist in a Japanese newspaper. He succeeded and very quickly he set off with the simplest tasks, but his obsessive ambition did not give him peace and he soon became embroiled in a showdown between the criminal underworld. It will all start with an investigation into seemingly innocuous and unrelated suicides of people who turn out to be all indebted to the same interest-bearing company. To be as close as possible to the source of the information, Jake will connect with an experienced police inspector in the narcotics department, Hirot Kagiri (Ken Watanabe), and with him he will begin to get to know the dark and dangerous hemisphere of the Japanese yakuza. And the really extraordinary series begins. Charming Jake will naively roll in fine without even realizing that he will actually turn into a pawn in a gangster clan showdown. As it goes, the ambitious yakuza Togawa (Ayumi Tonida) is trying to oust the old boss Ishida (Shun Shigata).
There is, clearly, the police who are also involved in these dubious affairs and although they know how the world of the yakuza works, they don’t touch them much as long as there is peace and until the victims become civilians. But this showdown threatens to escalate into open war. As “Tokyo Vice” is a series with a real Noir flair, it is clear that there must be a femme fatale. She is Samantha (Rachel Keller), a young blonde American who works as a hostess in a club where various suspects gather. The troubled Samantha, who has her dark secret, dreams of opening her own club, and in addition to her young compatriot, she will also attract the attention of Sata (Sho Kasamatsu), a young yakuza who works for old Ishida.
Jake will also be associated with Sata, and from an exceptional start, this extremely dynamic and superbly recorded crime series will fade a bit over time, but “Tokyo Vice” is still content that should satisfy all those who love crime. Although it is somehow hard to believe that a journalist and someone with a yellow beak like Jake could really get involved in something like this in real life, the story unfolds very interestingly. Both Elgort and Keller had to master the Japanese language well for their roles, and an outstanding job was done in terms of portraying Japan at the turn of the century. Most of the action takes place at night, and everything here shines with those mighty Tokyo neon lights, and although “Tokyo Vice” didn’t end up being one of those top-notch, revolutionary crime series that HBO is known for, it’s certainly content. worth paying attention to and watching. Rating 8/10,
MORE MOVIE REVIEWS: THE BEST MAN (1964, USA) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating