The Chasing World 2

August 8, 2010

Real onigokko 2 (Japan, 2010)

The Chasing World aka Real onigokko (2008) was an effective small budget thriller where Tsubasa Sato, blacklisted due to his surname, ran for his life in a parallel world. The chasers were masked criminals, hired to capture or execute all persons named Sato, in a deadly game played by the government. As the rules of parallel worlds go, when a person dies in one world, all clones in the others are immediately wiped out from the books of the living. The sequel reruns the same concept in such straightforward honesty that it’s difficult not to be impressed and amazed at the same time. The same game is now being played in yet another parallel world where an evil Shogun is targeting all poor Sato’s, leaving Tsubasa and his sister (Naoko Watanabe in a role inherited from Mitsuki Tanimura) with one option only: run like hell.

As its predecessor, The Chasing World 2 is not a showcase for high quality acting or screenwriting. Stumbling is less this time around, entirely due to simplified storyline. The outline is clear from the beginning: Sato runs, and the camera team try keep up with him. Renewals are few. Most remarkably Sato is now chased by mechanical killing machines instead of masked criminals. Most of the time the protagonist has only a few metal bastards on his tail, but in return each one of them is a near unstoppable killing machine.

The second reworking in the sequel is related to the parallel worlds. Rather than consisting of innocent victims, the Sato-tribe in the new world has now half-militarized into armed resistance. It’s a nice idea executed in mediocre fashion, changing the mix a little without really improving it. Originality has also gone down as a result: the sequel shows its debt to other movies. The iron fisted phantoms are obvious Terminator (1984) descendents, the war in the parallel world borrows from Aliens (1986), and from the amount of iron-hand-approaches-the-victim’s-face it’s safe to say Richard Stanley’s Hardware (1990) has been studied as well.

A lazy sequel The Chasing World 2 is not, however. The sheer energy of it outdoes the original film – and most other movies playing in theaters right now. The film’s strength is the action scenes which are plenty and often long – sometimes more than 10 minutes non-stop. The panic-escape scene around halfway into the film is virtuoso popcorn entertainment. The biggest thanks goes to the special effects – or rather, the lack of them. Computer graphics are only seen in the backgrounds and in one explosion, and the use of wires is minimal as well. The protagonist, escaping his faith with the help of amateur parkour, is also no superman or even professional athlete, which in turn may have been the thing that convinced the filmmakers to leave out dull Matrix-tricks.

The intensity of the chase scenes is also raised a few notched by changing the enemy’s artillery. Instead of strangling their victims like before, the villains now have an electrified arm that activates with a few second load time. With a brief gentle touch being enough for game over, the characters – and the viewer – and constantly have to be on their toes. The twist proved its practical effect in the movie theatre: the Tokyo school girls sitting behind me nearly ripped off their seats from the floor as they were dodging the iron claws reaching for the handsome hero’s ass on the screen (exactly how much the girls’ own metro and train traumas had to do with the sympathy they felt of the hero remains unclear to me).

A fluent mix of genre cliché, The Chasing World 2 is delivers what it promises. In terms of storyline the film in dumb, and some of the acting performances can’t be analyzed with common sense. As a small scale adrenaline grenade the film is, however, highly enjoyable. One must nevertheless wish the filmmakers will not continue the series from the end of the second film. The final scene, following the story climax, is so dumb it could be considered offensive if the clever ending credits image and decent theme song didn’t compensate. One must also feel amusement when the ending credits reveal the theme song to be courtesy of a band called High Speed Boys…

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