Review by Sean Boelman
Japanese director Takashi Miike is one of if not the single most prolific genre filmmakers there is, with over 100 feature film credits and counting under his belt. His newest movie, The Mole Song: Final, concludes a trilogy of films that was never released in the United States in a characteristically and gloriously over-the-top way.
Based on the manga by Noboru Takahashi, the movie follows a double agent who has infiltrated Japan’s most dangerous Yakuza clan as he tries to bring down a drug operation involving a pasta made entirely of methamphetamines. Writer Kankuro Kudo doubles down on the absurdity of the premise with a sense of humor that is unhinged and bonkers.
With the film’s runtime clocking in over two hours, the juvenile humor becomes a bit monotonous after a while. The mystery itself isn’t all that compelling given that it is all based on the single gag that, while initially funny, isn’t enough to sustain a two-hour procedural drama on its own.
For those viewers who haven’t seen the first two movies in the series — which is likely quite a few given that they haven’t gotten a wide-scale international release — the first fifteen-minute sequence presents a crash course on all of their events so that they can be primed to experience the finale.
The protagonist is definitely the lovable goof type of character, and there is something very charming about that. Undoubtedly, fans who have been following this series since the original film will connect even more with the character in the conclusion of his arc, but newcomers will still find plenty to love about him.
The entire cast of the movie is dialing it up to eleven, but given the farcical nature of the film, it works very well. Toma Ikuta’s leading performance has just the right balance of zaniness and charisma to nail the buffoonery while still being believable as the unlikely hero of the story. He plays the role so naturally that it’s almost as if he was born to play it.
Visually, the movie is very colorful as is the case with most of Miike’s comedic films. However, the movie doesn’t have the awesome action that distinguishes the filmmaker’s best efforts from those that are simply good. This is much more focused on the slapstick side of things, and while it’s funny enough, it’s not always exciting.
The Mole Song: Final is an enjoyable slapstick comedy, even if it isn’t among the best efforts from Takashi Miike. It will undoubtedly find its core audience of genre cinephiles, and they are who will give the film success.
The Mole Song: Final screened at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs July 13 through August 3.