Bayside Shakedown 2
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Cast: Yuji Oda, Eri Fukatsu, Mizuno Miki, Toshiro Yanagiba
Originally a TV drama, Bayside Shakedown made a spectacular "movie debut" in 1998. Not only did it do extremely well at the box office, it also helped boost director Katsuyuki Motohiro's career to a new height. 5 years later, the same group of elite came back again, this time, in a much bigger production scale. Just as expected, Motohiro and his crew did not disappoint the audience. The movie was well received and it was easily crowned the highest grossing movie of the year (2003) in Japan
With the success of the previous episode outside Japan, the film company was quite confident that this sequel would definitely generate some interest for international audience, therefore several versions of this movie were made to please audience from different regions or countries. There is the domestic version released in Japan with a duration of 138 minutes, an "early-cut" international version (approx. 110~ minutes) and a re-edited international version (120 minutes), which is the one I have watched. Compared to the first movie, it is obivous that the production budget was much bigger. Starting from the big cruise and helicopter scene in the beginning, it is already trying very hard to tell the audience that it is not any ordinary action movie but a blockbuster, and the entire movie is always soaked in this upbeat and hilarious atmosphere that is like a big party.
The narrative structure of Bayside Shakedown 2 is very much similar to its prequel. Motohiro merely follows the same successful formula without adding too many new elements. Same as Bayside Shakedown, the plot basically consists of a big case and various seemingly unconnected but actually intertwined small cases (which is a very interesting and effective structure as it parallels to the theme of the movie). Reiterating the same theme again, the story gives a severe but incisive critique on the bureaucracy in Japan through the conflict of the ruling class (high rank police official) and working class (ordinary officer). In some senses, the movie is actually like a spokeman of the working class, as obviously seen, the female commissioner is quite negatively depicted while Aoshima (Yuji Oda) and his partners are the ones receiving all the acclaims and applause. Perhaps it is because of this alignment with the stance of the working class, the movie is much welcome by the audiences which are mostly composed of this class.
As I mentioned above, the international version is about 18 minutes shorter than the domestic version, and it was said that most of the parts trimmed were those gags and humorous scenes that the film company did not expect international audience to understand. I am not sure if it is because of such reasons, I did actually find this movie less funny than the first one. Although the action and emotional moments are still impressive, the comical elements just seem to drop tremendously compared to the first episode. Having said that, it doesn't mean the performance of the cast is disappointing. Yuji Oda and Eri Fukatsu don't really look any different after 5 years and again they have done a great job in this movie. The rest of the cast is also brilliant. However, if you haven't seen the first movie or the TV drama before, you might find some of the characters or what they are doing quite confusing.
Bayside Shakedown 2 is a well crafted blockbuster. Motohiro certainly didn't fail the expectation of the audience. However, as I have mentioned above, this is merely an "encore" of the first movie, without really any new elements or surprise being brought in. Therefore, if you are looking for something new, this might not be your cup of tea, otherwise, perhaps you can just sit back and enjoy this grandiose party Motohiro had to offer.
Cool guy(s) - Yuji Oda, Eri Fukatsu
Reviewed by: Kantorates