Hydra (2019)

Posted in Reviews by - January 07, 2020
Hydra (2019)

Impressive directorial debut from action director Kensuke Sonomura, part of Re:Born director Yuji Shimomura’s stunt-team whose credits include John Woo’s Manhunt and the excellent martial arts comedy Bushido Man. This takes a simple narrative device and spins it into a convincingly hypnotic and well-measured revenge thriller, punctuated by two innovative, extended combat scenes; both of which are disorientating displays of close-quarters knife- and ground-fighting which meets the criteria of being both exquisitely choreographed and realistic enough to be believable. Masanori Mimoto plays mysterious chef Takashi, who cuts a brooding, intense figure in the kitchen at Tokyo’s Hydra bar. Takashi clearly harbours a dark, secretive past – you can tell by the way he spends his evenings on his own staring at his bathroom taps. He’s a trained assassin working as part of the Tokyo Life Group, a moralistic arm of the killing industry dishing out death to those who really deserve it; bent coppers, rapists, real nasty types. But a new, less scrupulous gang has arrived on the scene who don’t take too kindly to the Tokyo Life Group muscling in on their turf, and soon enough, we have a showdown on our hands. Sonomora takes his tonal and aesthetic cues from Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film, Drive (particularly in its use of long-held static shots and synthesisers), creating his own low-budget Japanese crime story with real aspirations. Its stillness is refreshing, and it will be great to see what Sonomura accomplishes next.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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