1996, NR, 82 min. Directed by Sabu. Starring Shinichi Tsutsumi, Diamond Yukai, Tomoro Taguchi.
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Dec. 8, 2000
The latest release in the Shooting Gallery series, the 1996 crime drama Non-Stop keeps busy enough for its brisk 82-minute running time. But 82 minutes is a long time to run, as the film's three protagonists discover while pounding the pavement in what appears to be the lengthiest foot chase in film history. Then-debuting writer-director Sabu (né Hiroyuki Tanaka) herds his cast across a landscape of neon-streaked alleys, pachinko parlors, and one particularly massive bridge, while a soundtrack of crazy bongos and wonky Casiotone jazz pulsates peppily. After his halfhearted attempt to rob a bank founders, browbeaten chef Yasuda (Tamaguchi) takes off running. When he tries to steal a mask, Yasuda is doggedly pursued by smack-addled convenience store clerk Aizawa (Yukai), who fronts a band called Shame (an assortment of hair-farming Japanese funk-fusion rockers) when he's not cooking up with Evian in the stockroom or roughing up his girlfriend. Takeda (Tsutsumi), the shiny-suited yakuza heavy sent to work over Aizawa, brings up the rear, trailing a chorus of various cops and robbers. Sabu flashes smoothly enough between the chase and each runner's backstory, but the screenplay sets up an obstacle course of genre conventions -- a pointy-headed geek cop with a firearms fetish, a Brandoesque Mr. Big, and an incipient gangland turf war likely to ignite a Tarantinoid tempest of testosterone and bullets in a climactic showdown conveniently located in that abandoned warehouse of yore. Subsequently, the film never quite takes flight; it feels more like a formal exercise than a spontaneous blast of adrenaline, unlike the (at times) strikingly similar (but far more assured) German import Run Lola Run. But as you might expect from his fancy moniker, Sabu has some interesting tricks up his sleeve. When the trio scurries past a pretty pedestrian, each man fantasizes about her in turn -- as a lover, as a victim, and as a whore. Later, the portly crime don daydreams about life after his death -- seen as a camcorder documentary montage in which the surviving yakuza toadies wax sycophantic about the big man's honor and leadership skills. The occasional visual risk, such as the mixing of media, makes Non-Stop a little more fleet-footed.