Dangan Runner (1996)

July 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Sabu]
Color 82 min

A fun, not-too-serious movie, the first from fun, not-too-serious director Sabu. As you can probably guess, this film was the one that established his reputation for fun, not-too-serious films.

That mantra could be the tag-line for this film. And its’ lightness is its’ saving grace.

Actor Tomorowo Taguchi, the versatile star of Tetsuo: The Iron Man, is an apprentice chef, down on his luck. He’s broke, he’s been dumped, he’s been fired, and he’s been humiliated by everyone in his life. So, armed with a real pistol, he’s going to rob a bank. But he’s forgotten a mask. At a nearby convenience store he finds a mask, but he’s forgotten to bring his wallet. He tries to steal the mask, but is caught shoplifting, and, pursued by the equally at-the-end-of-his-rope convenience-store-worker, he runs.

The entire film takes place during their morning-to-night chase. A yakuza who’s been trying to collect a debt from the convenience-store-clerk joins the chase. He’s also ran himself ragged with guilt because he dogged an assasin’s knife and let his boss take the hit for him. As the three of them run, they unwittingly incite a violent war between the various yakuza groups and the police. But also, as they continue on their marathon, the worldly cares that seemed to weigh them down start to lift off their shoulders. Eventually, they learn to feel good about their lives through running, and they end up running side-by-side-by-side, as if it were a race or a track meet.

It’s pretty silly. It’s not a great film, but it is a nice breath of fresh air in light of all the way-too-serious films out there.

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