Michelle reviews Tokyo Mighty Guy, from the Arrow Video Set of Nikkatsu Diamond Guys.
Nikkatsu is Japan's oldest movie studio and Diamond Guys are a collection of caper-style films that they released on the late fifties and early sixties. Most of them have a lighter style mood and for the most part they seem to be heavily influenced by western culture. They, of course, take place in Japan and have Japanese actors, but it seems like they are made to emulate the happy-go-lucky films that were coming out in the States at the time. Tokyo Mighty Guy strays from this formula a bit by having a decidedly French approach to the atmosphere and even a few musical numbers sprinkled in. It sounds like it wouldn't be a good mix but it's surprisingly amusing and campy.
We follow the adventures of Jiro (Akira Kobayashi) a chef who has decided upon his return to Japan from France that he will open a restaurant that focuses on French cuisine. His lofty and delicious plans are thwarted by an encounter with a crooked politician with ties to the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). Jiro is the type of guy who doesn't take flack from anyone and Kobayashi is a smooth and charismatic guy that is perfect for the role. While the tone never gets too gritty, there is a bit of a gangster movie going on beneath the brightly colored exterior. Tokyo Mighty Guy was directed by Buichi Saito who is better known for Lone Wolf And Cub: Baby Cart In Peril (1972) and that might account for this film being a little rough around the edges.
The film is great looking for the most part and it really showcases all of the bustling life of the Ginza district in Tokyo. The cinematography is interesting and the use of color is especially wonderful. Everything is candy-colored and over-saturated and the movie opens with an adorable little musical number complete with hand-painted cardboard backgrounds. It seems that this film was made for a younger audience in mind because the plot is rather simple and cliché. The acting isn't too bad, though it does have that hint of the dramatic flourish that the Japanese are well known for. There is a bit of naughtiness to the proceedings as well with a little bit of extra female skin on display. It's nothing too over-the-top and it adds to the playful nature of the film. While Tokyo Mighty Guy isn't a hidden gem of Japanese cinema or anything, it is a decent little flick to keep you busy on a lazy Sunday afternoon.