Singapore & Asian Film News Portal since 2006

FILM REVIEW: City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes4 min read

22 May 2019 3 min read


FILM REVIEW: City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The number-one private eye Ryo Saeba and his partner Kaori Makimura are assigned bodyguards to a model, Ai Shindo, who has been targeted and followed. She unknowingly holds the key to a conspiracy that puts herself and Shinjuku in danger, and Kaori is caught in the middle of it all through an unlikely reunion with a friend.

Director: Kenji Kodama
Year: 2019
Voice Actors: Akira Kamiya, Kazue Ikura, Yôko Asagami, Tesshô Genda, Marie Iitoyo
Language: Japanese with English and Chinese subtitles
Runtime: 96 min

Review by Nadia Alang

After years of appearing on-screen under the guise of well-known stars like Jackie Chan in his action-comedy film and Lee Min-Ho in the Korean drama series, Ryo Saeba the City Hunter is back in his original form based on Tsukasa Hojo’s manga. If you’re a fan of the 90s anime series, you’d be glad to know that its style is retained in the upcoming anime film City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes. The characters still dress like they’re from the 90s and even though it’s set in modern-day Shinjuku, the styles of animation give the film a pleasantly nostalgic vibe.

Those unfamiliar with City Hunter can still find much to enjoy about this entertaining action comedy. The predictable plot can be pardoned because it unfolds with scenes that are action-packed, and hilariously filled with a lot of sexual jokes and attractive women… if you know what I mean. Even romance-lovers can indulge in the underlying love story that was going on but I was personally relieved that this was not developed. Instead, there is a bigger focus on the City Hunter himself to showcase how funny, cool, strong, and basically, well-rounded this hero is or at least, that’s what the film would have you believe.

Despite the slight over-indulgence in hero worship, Ryo’s dynamic character definitely kept the story interesting for me, even as a stranger to the anime. This is also perhaps why adaptations over the years have kept close to his characterisation. His goofy antics will make you roll your eyes but watching him spring into serious action leaves you with quite an impression. Although the transitions from flirtatious playboy to serious crime fighter appear jarring, it helps that there were moments where a quieter side of him surfaces to let us know that he’s simply not as predictable as we think. But that’s as much as we get in terms of character development in the film.

The film introduces the rest of the characters without going too much into them, and the crossover with the Cat’s Eye manga proves once more this is a film for the fans. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the badass girl-power front put up by the three sisters who own the Cat’s Eye cafe in the film. Girl-power is featured a lot in this film, mainly shown through Kaori’s bursts of outrage towards anyone who messes with her as well as her protectiveness over Ai and loyalty to her job.

In this way, Kaori is more of a standalone character than the City Hunter’s partner. Other than to keep Ryo’s playboy instincts at bay by hitting him with a hammer in that classic cartoonish style, her role as a partner is not very significant. The story also sets up a seemingly complicated relationship between the two which made the dynamics of their partnership even more confusing and underdeveloped. There’s more focus on Ryo’s friendship with the beautiful and sweet Ai but even this contributes to nothing other than to bring out a more sensitive side to Ryo that is hidden underneath his flirtatious behaviour. I would have liked to see more of Kaori’s badass side rather than seeing her getting sidelined into a minor role like the other characters as the story went on.

The plot is driven quickly into a series of fighting scenes, not unlike other 21st-century superhero films where evil corporate billionaires channel their wealth into developing high-tech weapons and machines. Our hero overcomes all of this with a handheld gun, slick moves, lightning running speed, and… thick plot armour. Although a little absurd, the action scenes are still rad especially with the wonderful animation, soundtrack and some of Ryo’s surprisingly genius moves.

Overall, I found the film to be very entertaining, with a good balance of humour and action. The story could have used more surprises in its plot and the characters a little more development. With the old-school anime style and manga references, it felt more like an introduction to Hojo’s manga universe rather than a standalone movie. Nonetheless, it did a good job as it is because I left the theatre wondering what’s in store for Ryo and Kaori.

City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes premieres in theatres on 23rd May!

An optimistic pessimist. A cynical believer. And a careful dreamer. Basically the moron in oxymoron but sometimes I say things just for pun.
%d bloggers like this: