Genre: Bruce-Lee-Martial-Arts Musical involving an Axe-Wielding-Psycho-Killer Salaryman who happens to be a 6- Foot Tall Koala.
review in one breath
Tamura is a highly successful and functional business manager at his beloved pickle company. Everything he touches in the realm of business turns into success to the company's great delight. The only things he seems to have going against him are (1) he is a huge, towering fuzzy Koala in an otherwise wholly human world, and (2) he suffers from frequent memory lapses. Oh, and every time his memory fails, a grisly murder occurs. Just a coincidence, right?
Here is another strange film from director Kawasaki Minoru involving large costumed animals in otherwise normal settings. Kawasaki's forte seems to be combining these large costumed protagonists with a sports theme. Thus we get the infamous Calamari Wrestler (2004), Kabuto-O Beetle (2005 - A wrestling Beetle), and Kani Gorukipa (2006 - a soccer playing Crab). In the midst of this bizarre sports-themed parade comes Executive Koala (2005) where an uncharacteristically fuzzy character is placed in the uncharacteristically dark and serious setting of a stressed-out business (koala)man in the midst of unsolved violent crimes.
Kawasaki's earlier sports-themed films followed a fairly predictable progression where the protagonist faces huge emotional and physical obstacles ('cause its hard being a 7 foot walking squid, you know) but slowly and surely rises to the top of his/its professional to win the trophy and get the girl. Yada yada yada. With Koala Executive however, our koala protagonist starts at the top of his game and slowly spirals downward as the blood dripping from his axe increases exponentially.
This is a strange tale and not only for the obvious reasons. The "secret" behind Tamura's murderous blackouts involves an unexpected plot twist, but the true strangeness does not emerge until the film's final act, as the entire genre of the film seems to shift into, shall we say, psychedelic kung fu. As to why director Kawasaki envisioned this for the ending of the film, I have no clue. Perhaps he was thinking outside the box. Way WAY outside the box.
Except for the obvious fact that he is a 6 foot tall Koala bear in a business suit, Tamura leads a rather successful yet ordinary life as a sale executive at his beloved pickle factory. And his future is looking rosy as the lead architect of a new merger with a Korean partner. He even has a (human) girl in his sites as a possible love interest.
But his smooth sailing is interrupted by sudden, violent dreams in which he is hacking people to death with an axe. The dreams themselves are disturbing enough, but when he realizes that the people he dreamt of were in fact hacked to death at the very time of his nightmare, he does what any self-respecting koala would do... talk to his psychiatrist.
Its clear from his waking personality that he is mild mannered and sensitive. So how could he possibly have such dream-state fantasies of violent murder? And what if he is actually a sleep-walking maniac with an axe? All clues soon point to the fact that Tamura may have come unglued, resulting in bloody rampages which his more civilized side refuses to accept and thus blocks them from memory.
Will Tamura discover the truth behind his blackouts before his efforts at a Japan-Korea pickle merge are dashed? Will he get (at least the bloody stump) of his dream girl? Will he suddenly become an expert martial arts warrior as neon and strobe lights flash intensely in the background? WHO KNOWS!!??
This is indeed a strange one. The first half of the film lays out a rather interesting and entertaining plot wherein we watch mild-mannered Tamura turn into a demon-eyed berzerkoid with an axe. Its koala slasher horror at its best.
But the way in which the plot resolves left me scratching my head, to say the least. I'm not sure why we needed kung fu against a colorful backdrop, but then again, I'm not the mastermind that came up with the idea of a psycho koala bear.
This was fun to watch despite its complete lack of logical resolution. As fun as a koala with an axe.
Version reviewed:Region 1 DVD with optional English subtitles. This is available in all mainstream venues.
|Maybe a little insight into the stressful world of Japanese businessmen and how the stress may or may not turn them into large axe-wielding koala bears.||Yes, that is an AXE! And yes, he is one ANGRY KOALA!||Koala genitalia do not make an appearance in this movie.||Director Kawasaki moves from his normally upbeat sports-themed animal adventures to a far more darker, bloodier setting. And the neon Kung Fu Fest proves to be a little mind boggling.|