The Japanese “Adrenaline Drive,” written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, is a merry little romp through the world of gangsters, blood money and romance.
It’s a film that appear to be of little substance, unless you start asking questions about what happens when it’s over, “Are they REALLY going to be happy?” being chief among them.
Suzuki (Masanobu Ando) is a weak-willed rental-car clerk who accidentally rear-ends a car belonging to the Yakuza — the Japanese Mafia. Reluctantly, Suzuki visits their headquarters in order to settle things, whereupon an explosion kills most of them.
Meanwhile, timid bespectacled nurse Shizuko (Hikari Ishida), on her way home from work, sees the explosion and is naturally drawn in to help the survivors. She and Suzuki wind up in an ambulance together, which a not-quite-dead Yakuza causes to crash, which results in our two unlikely heroes running off with a huge bag of cash belonging to the gangsters.
Before long, the remaining Yakuza are after them. They’re a delightfully inept bunch, played by Japanese comedy group Jovi Jova, and between their incompetence and Shizuko and Suzuki’s indecisive worthlessness, it’s hard to know which is funnier. They’re all endearing, in their way.
From the hospital, head bad guy Yamada (Maggy) is not taking things lying down, except insofar as he’s forced to lie down, being quite battered and broken from the explosion. He, too, heads out after the duo, with the help of a mildly cooperative head nurse (Kazue Tsunogae).
Mixed in with all the cat-and-mouse stuff, deliberately paced and entertaining without being slapsticky, is a budding romance between Shizuko and Suzuki. It’s a sweet little story: “Japanese Nerds in Love,” you might call it, and it gives the film just a little extra oomph.
Not that it needs it. Even without the romantic subplot, “Adrenaline Drive” is a jaunty, enjoyable caper film.
B+ (; )