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DVD: Wasabi (2001)
Review Rating:   Standard  
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Columbia Tri-Star 
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1 (NTSC)

February 11, 2003



Genre: Action/Comedy  
Informed of a lost love's passing, French detective Hubert ("Hubert... Hubert!") travels to Japan and must protect his love child from the local Mafia.  



Directed by:

Gerard Krawczyk
Screenplay by: Luc Besson
Music by: Eric Serra , Julien Schultheis
Produced by: Luc Besson

Jean Reno,  Michael Muller,  Ryoko Hirosue,  Carole Bouquet,  Ludovic Berthillot,  Yan Epstein,  Michel Scourneau,  Christian Sinniger,  Jean-Marc Montalto,  Alexandre Brik,  Fabio Zenoni,  Veronique Balme,  Jacques Bondoux,  Yoshi Oida,  Haruhiko Hirata

Film Length: 94 mins Process/Ratio: 1.85:1
Colour Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:  French/English Dolby 5.1
Special Features :  

Theatrical trailers for "Wasabi," "Formula 51," "Swept Away" and "Trapped"

Comments :

With his second unit work for Luc Besson's "The Messengers," Gerard Krawczyk proved himself an able pupil of Besson's kinetic marriage of Tex Avery-styled facial mugging, and Frank Tashlin's visually elaborate gag deliveries. Krawczyk retained Besson's Warner Bros cartoon sensibilities for Besson's "Taxi 2" in 2000, and his subsequent assignment is quite similar: fun, fluffy, and briskly paced with minimal exposition, although Reno is given sufficient material to create a staid and compelling character.

Krawczyk stuck with Besson's peculiar casting choices, often showcasing oddly-shaped heads and physiques; Michael Muller's chinless beaver mug compliments the sleek features of rambunctious redhead Hirosue, and even Carole Bouquet smirks and blinks according to Besson's Rules of Filmic Ticks & Nuances.

Columbia's anamorphic transfer of "Wasabi" is a typically nice-looking transfer, with crisp detail, stable colours, and a Dolby 5.1 sound mix with optional English and French dialogue. Removable English subtitles make "Wasabi" a big step up from the Seville release, which was aimed at the Quebec market and lacked any subtitle for anglophones.

The Dolby 5.1 mix offers a nice separation of rapid dialogue and music track, the latter benefiting from Besson's regular composer Eric Serra (with newcomer Julien Schultheis) and plenty of bass-friendly rap and techno songs. The disc also includes a trailer derived from a French-language print, with added subtitles and English narration. (A prior release from Seville includes different extras.)

Besson remains amazingly active, producing and writing several similar action-comedies (including the new "Taxi 3," directed by Krawczyk), and the upcoming "Danny the Dog" and "Fanfan la tlipe" - the latter also directed by Krawczyk) - yet in North America, many of his titles remain unreleased (a situation that'll hopefully change with this more accessible version of "Wasabi").

© 2003 Mark R. Hasan

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