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.

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