Movie Review – HK: Hentai Kamen – Abnormal Crisis [NYAFF 2016]

HentaiKamen

EXPECTATIONS: An inferior sequel with a lack of ingenuity and purpose, except for being a cash-grab.

REVIEW: Superhero stories are the big thing in film and TV right now and considering the box office gross of Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman, it’s not going to die soon. But in my opinion, I’m just getting really tired of the craze. Most of these films end up with a end-of-the-world scenario, city-wide destruction, superhero posing within the danger of human lives and the villain’s unnecessary convoluted plan to bring about their own pain. Now that is just primo material in need of a spoofing. Enter Hentai Kamen, a superhero that wears panties on his head that gives him sexual powers. HK’s first film was a sleeper hit in Japan and is considered a cult classic all over the world due to its hilariously bizarre premise and its thrashing of superhero cliches. And now we have the long-awaited sequel. Will it be as good as the original or will be worn out as a used pair of panties?

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Starting off with a hilarious nod (one of many) to Spider-Man 2, Kyosuke Shikijo (Ryohei Suzuki) has graduated to university, but he’s struggling to abandon his second job as a perverted crime-fighter. When his girlfriend, Aiko (Fumika Shimizu, cute as a button), forces him to return the holy grail that is her panties (which Kyosuke needs to transform), Kyosuke decides to put his superhero duties on hiatus. However, with a mysterious villain vacuuming up women’s panties nationwide, anyone with a brain stem can figure out that it isn’t long for Kyosuke to ride up his crotch and give the villains some of his face time.

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The first film was a fun diversion out of a one-joke premise, but the running time of the film made it drag. And the film was 105 minutes. So imagine how it must feel when the sequel is two hours. But honestly, it doesn’t feel slower than the original did; and that is due to its bigger scope and the more focused and relaxed performances from the reprising cast. Ryohei Suzuki is still a hoot as he shows sheer commitment to the role and the silly proceedings; so much so that I actually prefer him as Kyosuke than Hentai Kamen. His flamboyant cries of panic and his hesitance of hand-to-hand combat (SOLAR PLEXUS!) always makes me laugh. Fumika Shimizu still does the precocious attitude absolutely straight that it also comes off as amusing; particularly when the ridiculously dramatic stakes take over in the climax. Tsuyoshi Muro reprises his villainous role with a minor twist that had me smiling due to the hilarious execution of it and Nana Katase shows up once again as a firecracker of a mother. I really meant to say “mother”, I swear.

Yuichi Fukada’s direction also pays off in various ways. The nods to previous superhero films are great, especially the ones nodding to Spider-man 2. A supposedly tragic scene that is executed with a sting of self-awareness and a hint of raunchiness pays off in a hilarious way. His timing for comedy has also improved, even if it is the same joke happening one too many. Then again, you can never have too much tight crotches on film. The bigger budget also adds to the scope, with more hilariously bad CGI battles, more silly situations and even new sets; something the first film did not have. Cameos from known actors also amuse like Hirofumi Arai and Kyosuke Yabe add to the fun.

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But the problems of the first film still exist, plus some other problems, which makes the film an inferior sequel. Two hours for a film such as this will really get tiring, and the feeling really hits when Kyosuke sets out for more training with a master (played by the returning Ken Yasuda). The new characters in the film do not make much of an impression. Yuya Yagira (who is so far away from his film, Nobody Knows) is dull as dishwater as the Little Shop of Horrors/Doctor Octopus villain while Ayame Misaki makes a surprisingly small impression as the sexy university professor.

But the main problem is that it does not do anything daring or really new with its hilarious premise. Sex comedies are a dime a dozen and with its high bar of controversy and tastelessness to strive for, the humour in Hentai Kamen is very tame. Well, tame for a film where a man shoves his crotch on another man’s face can be. It’s not a travesty of a sequel like Zoolander 2 but it is not a success like 22 Jump Street.

But what the film still achieves makes for an entertaining time at the movies. If there is a third entry to this rare occurrence of a franchise, I just hope it takes more chances, since the first film was such a crotch shot in the dark. Idea for a sequel title: THE SKID MARK RISES or THE TIGHT CROTCH RETURNS. Okay, I’ll stop now.

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Quickie Review

PROS

The returning cast give more confident performances

Fukuda’s direction still pays off in amusing ways

Bigger budget and better production values add to the fun

CONS

Overlong running time

Draggy pacing

Boring new characters

Nothing new or surprising in terms of its humour

SCORE: 6/10

Cast: Ryohei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Yuya Yagira, Tsuyoshi Muro, Ayame Misaki, Sarutoki Minagawa, Hirofumi Arai, Kyosuke Yabe, Katsuya, Osamu Adachi, Haruna Uechi, Hitomi Sato, Nana Katase, Narushi Ikeda, Ken Yasuda
Director: Yuichi Fukuda
Screenwriters: Yuichi Fukuda, based on the manga by Keishu Ando

 

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