When a man wears a rug
Review Date: October 19, 2010
Released by: Synapse Films
Release date: 11/18/2008
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
He hides his head
He hides his emotions
The hustle and bustle of the city
Is filled with pieces of broken hearts
Lies and deception
Will turn to suffering
Throw away your sorrow
Throw away your rug
Joy will find you again
Meet Detective Hatsuo Genda (Moto Fuyuki
), a middle-aged cop whose career at the Tokyo police department has hit a dead end, despite his amazing record for solving cases. The apparent problem with Genda is that his unique ability to stop crimes in progress and apprehend suspects depends on his mastery of his toupee - otherwise known as his "rug" - as a weapon, sending it flying through the air to disable criminals and knock weapons out of their hands. Evidently embarrassed by his methods, his superiors have now transferred him to a run-down, underfunded precinct on the city outskirts, exiling him with other freaks, whom he meets on his first day.
After being introduced to the seemingly normal Tonko (Mai Hashimoto
) he gets a big surprise in the form of his co-workers, who include Detective Wahei "Big Dick" Nakahigashi (Ijiri Okada
), whose penis grows so big when aroused that he can use it as a weapon. Then there's Detective Genta "Fatty" Ugawa (Uganda Tora
), a morbidly obese cop who sweats so much that he can use it to disable his opponents when fighting. Then there's Detective Kanichi "Shorty" Nabeya (Yakan Nabe
), an officer whose diminutive size masks tremendous physical strength and speed. There's also Detective Goro "Old Man" Ohyaji (Michihiko Hamada
), a technology-challenged geezer nearing retirement, and Detective Menjiro "Handsome" Ikeda (Yusuke Kirishima
), who is so attractive that women commit crimes just so they can have the chance to be interrogated by him.
Not long after Genda arrives does the precinct get its newest mystery in the form of a DVD mailed by a criminal gang. The disc shows a shipment of highly enriched uranium being hijacked by criminals in masks. The group threatens that, unless they are paid five billion yet, they will turn the uranium into an atomic bomb and use it to destroy Tokyo! Officials from the national government quickly swoop in to take over the investigation, but Detective Genda and the rest of the misfits refuse to be counted out, rushing to use their bizarre abilities to save Tokyo from destruction, and perhaps earn a little respect for their, er, unique talents.
Described as a spoof of 1970's Japanese cop shows, The Rug Cop
is an amusing but not fully satisfying comedy from director Minoru Kawasaki, who has brought us movies like The Calamari Wrestler
and the recent Guilala re-boot Monster X Strikes Back
. I have never seen a Japanese cop show from the 70's, but judging from this film they must have been quite similar to the American police shows of the time. Certainly all the obligatory scenes in place, from the failed attempt at tracing a phone call to the last minute "which wire do I cut to disable this bomb?" moment. Simply the fact that the main character is noted for wearing a terrible (or sometimes beautiful) toupee harkens back to a time when Rogaine was non-existent and bald men had few options to not remain bald. The inclusion of the various detectives with their weird special abilities is an effective spoof of popular archetypes in police procedurals.
But Kawasaki, clearly knowing the conventions of the genre that he is spoofing, nonetheless chooses to abandon them partway through the film. Despite a hilarious opening sequence and set-up, The Rug Cop
takes the lofty concept and discards it for the middle half of the movie, which is not nearly as humorous as the beginning or end portions. The film opens on a hilarious note, as Detective Genda shows up to stop a bank robbery in progress. Entering the bank, where the employees have been taken hostage, the robber is revealed to be a squeaky-voiced, gun-wielding hand puppet who has taken control of his human operator. Genda sends his toupee flying, knocking the puppet’s head off. Kawasaki tries throughout the movie, but he’s never quite able to top the brilliant absurdity of his opening. The middle portions are often humorless, but lead to an extremely entertaining climax when the special abilities of all his colleagues are unleashed in full force.
With a running time of just seventy-nine minutes even the unfunny middle portions are tolerable, and they are worth sitting through to get to that climax. I will not try to claim that The Rug Cop
is a classic, nor that it is the best that the filmography of Minoru Kawasaki has to offer (personally I much prefer Executive Koala
), but it is an amusing and mostly entertaining little movie that is easily accessible to non-Japanese audiences, and I can easily recommend it as such.
The movie is presented letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 displays. Like the other films in Synapse’s Minoru Kawasaki Collection, the presentation here is good but not stellar. The Rug Cop
was shot digitally and thus the transfer is very clean and sharp, with good colors and accurate flesh tones. Black levels are decent, with above average shadow detail, although a certain amount of video noise pops up during some of the night scenes and the production’s low budget origins are quite obvious. Perfectly watchable for what it is, although nobody will ever mistake this for anything other than a cheap independent film.
Like the video, sound quality on this release is above average but not exceptional. The only audio option is the film’s original Japanese 2.0 Stereo mix. Neither too quiet nor too aggressive, this is the kind of track where you will not have to spend time fiddling with the remote after finding a comfortable volume for the opening few minutes. Music, dialogue and sound effects are reproduced clearly, and without any noticeable background noise or distortion.
Optional English subtitles are provided.
Synapse provides a decent number of supplements here, the biggest being the thirty-one minute “making-of” featurette that is included, which is a compilation of behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews with various members of the cast, all shot with a consumer grade camcorder. It provides a comprehensive look at the film’s extremely short shooting schedule (only about a week) although the video itself is rather slow moving and I found it hard to get through in one sitting.
Other extras include an eight and a half minute video segment which shows a press conference with Kawasaki and his cast (then segueing to the premiere of the film where actor Moto Fuyuki speaks briefly) and fourteen minutes of introductions by Kawasaki and various cast members where the possibility of a sequel is alluded to frequently.
The special features conclude with a brief theatrical trailer.
The Rug Cop
has some priceless moments of satire and spoof, but the finished film is not quite equal the sum of its individual parts. Neither the best nor the worst of Minoru Kawasaki’s filmography, this DVD has adequate video and sound quality and a reasonable number of special features, although the relatively high MSRP makes this more a recommended rental than a purchase.
Movie – B-
Image Quality – B-
Sound – B
Supplements – B-
- Running Time – 1 hour 19 minutes
- Not rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- Japanese 2.0 Stereo
- English subtitles
- “Making-of” featurette
- Press conference with director and cast
- Director and cast introductions