Japanese stuntman Kensuka Sonomura makes his directorial debut with this action drama about a mysterious man who can’t escape his destiny.
Takashi is a man who works at a local bar in the streets of Tokyo. He works at the local Hydra Bar where he befriends bartenders Rina and Kenta. However, there is more to Takashi that it seems to be. He keeps his eye on the customers very intently as Takashi is also an assassin for a secret organization. The organization’s mission is to keep Japan safe from the likes of the gangster underworld. However, one such customer, Hasegawa, has major plans to unleash a very deadly crime syndicate.
Takashi works at the bar as a favor to Rina’s dad, who was a one-time friend of Takashi’s who was a member of the criminal underworld. When Takashi was forced to kill him, Takashi made the vow to take care of Rina. With danger looming, Takashi attempts to teach Rina to defend herself. However, as Hasegawa continues to chime in at the bar, he does notice Takashi and recognizes him. To make matters worse, the organization has sent in a successor for Takashi, who plans to leave the organization but is assigned to take on one more job before retiring. However, when Rina finds herself kidnapped, Takashi is willing to go to great lengths to ensure her safety.
At a runtime of 77 minutes, this Japanese action thriller is quite a film to check out, not just for its blistering action scenes, but the story is well played out with some intricate twists and turns. The story of an assassin wanting to get out of the game is one that has been done many times, but in this case, the assassin is not so much a bad person, but sees so much more and of course, the forced into one last assignment thing is another trop in the genre. However, what stands out is the purpose and why he intends to retire as well that comes into play well. The film marks the directorial debut of stuntman Kensuke Sonomura, and it is a blistering one at that!
Stuntman/actor Masanori Mimoto is great in the role of Takashi Sato, the mysterious assassin who also works at the local bar that sports the movie’s title. In some ways Sato is like that of Michael Jai White’s Elijah Bone from Blood and Bone. He is very mysterious and works at the bar to keep an eye on bartender Rina, played the singularly named Miu. In a subtle but not too overbearing subplot, fellow bartender Kenta, played by Tasuku Nagase, seems to have this crush on Rina but is afraid to say anything. When he tries to talk to Takashi about it, it is met with a more reserved reaction than anything.
The action of this film is just simply amazing. Mostly consisting of knife fighting and close quarter combat, the team of director/editor Sonomura, lead star Mimoto, and co-star Naohiro Kawamoto (with Koji Kawamoto as “action coordinator”) do an amazing job on the fight scenes. They are very fast and quick without to any style of quick cuts and extreme close-ups. Instead, we are treated to how exactly close quarter combat with knives should be shot. There are also some amazing doses on MMA that would make the likes of Tim Man and Scott Adkins proud to watch as they are done with such quickness and intensity. It is this brand of action choreography that we need more of.
Hydra is a very tense and fierce action thriller that has very fast and blistering choreography and has a few twists in the story of an assassin who goes to great lengths to get out of the game and keep a promise.
WFG RATING: A-
A Polyphonic Film production in association with Hydra Film Partners. Director: Kensuke Sonomura. Producer: Masataka Yamada. Writer: Jiro Kaneko. Cinematography: Yasuyuki Suzuki. Editing: Kensuke Sonomura.
Cast: Masanori Mimoto, Miu, Tasuku Nagase, Takaya Aoyagi, Takashi Nishina, Satoshi Kibe, Tsutomu Uchigasaki, Kazunori Yajima, Hironobu Nomura, Tomorowo Taguchi, BoBA.