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KAMIKAZE TAXI

Japan, 1994 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Masato Harada

Tatsuo is a cocky chimpira (apprentice gangster) whose yakuza bosses are grooming as a pimp to the rich and famous. But when screws up big time on one of his first important jobs, Tatsuo is forced to flee Tokyo, followed by his girlfriend. He finds a taxi driver who will take him to a small town on the Izu Peninsula trouble is, Kantake, the Japanese-Peruvian driver, can't read the map "A foreigner," Tatsi groans, however this driver is destined become more than a bit player in Tatsuo's life. Calm when Tatsuo is excitable, quiet whe Tatsuo is loud, he seems a Third World innocent yet as the they travel the countryside, the driver emerges as a figure of inner strength, carryIng his own burden from the past. Their dark satirical quest for vengeance takes us on journey into Kantake's personal history as crosscultural outcast, whereby he discovers his dead father's sense of kamikaze.

As accurate as it is, none of the above adequately expresses the pleasant (and amusing surprises that writer/director Masato Hara wrings from this most unusual combination influences Equal parts yakuza movie, cult comedy, political corruption drama, road movie and so commentary pic, Kamikaze Taxi is one heady,original brew with a wicked sense of humor lurking |ust beneath the surface, even deeper an angry but disillusioned commentary on lapanese racism and corruption (TB)

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